ESF - English Schools Foundation

ESF subsidy cut - will government save money?

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 January, 2003, 12:00am

Secretary for Education and Manpower Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung is a respected professional in the field of education.

He should use his expertise to rectify the problems in our education system and design tailor-made school curricula that suit the needs of Hong Kong, which has been a commercial hub in the Far East for decades.

The SAR government always claims that Hong Kong is an international city. If that is so, the standard of English-language teaching in our education system has to be very high. Professor Li wants to establish a clear and firm language policy and then to take gradual steps to achieve the goal.

However, he also wants to cut subsidies to the English Schools Foundation (ESF) and this seems to be counter-productive.

The ESF schools are very open-minded when it comes to selecting children of different nationalities.

The ESF system is like a microcosm of our world, with children of different nationalities. You see pupils who are British, American, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, French, Indian - the list goes on.

Given that Hong Kong is an international city, it should provide an ideal environment for foreign investors.

The ESF schools play a vital role in this respect, as potential investors know that their children will get a good education.

I have children at an ESF school. I am not rich; therefore, if, because of the withdrawal of subsidies, the school fees skyrocket, I will be forced to send my children to government schools which receive direct subsidies.

The amount of money that the government will then have to spend on my children will be far higher than it has to pay out at the moment.

If most of the Chinese pupils in ESF schools have to do the same as my children, I wonder how much money the government will really save.

Will it end up spending more than the $300 million which it claims it can save by withdrawing the ESF subsidy?

I urge the administration to think again.

Officials must weigh up the serious implications of such a measure and how it would adversely affect Hong Kong.