ESF - English Schools Foundation


PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 February, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 3:17pm

Q Should ESF parents give Mike Haynes a chance to prove himself?

The answer must be a resounding no! If your child has toothache would you take her to a car mechanic?

When it comes to her education the last person you would want as ESF chief executive is a former insurance man without a university degree.

The top ESF job must go to a fully experienced educationalist who can earn the respect and support from teaching staff and communicate strategy openly and clearly to parents.

The business side is a secondary consideration and can be adequately handled by any person who can answer the following question. What is the sum of two plus two?

Alistair Watson, Kennedy Town

I am an ESF parent and I say no. My child's education depends on the leadership ability of the CEO.

How can he lead without the confidence of the parents? The ESF is facing some tough decision-making on major organisational and financial issues. These decisions need parents' support.

I want to see a leader who is totally committed to the ESF, is beyond reproach, is able to win hearts and minds and keep his or her eye on the corporate and political ball. Someone I have confidence in will appraise all options and do the best for my child.

Mr Haynes does not do this for me. I say re-advertise using a transparent process.

Name and address supplied

I am in absolute shock to read Mike Haynes' defence of his proposed appointment. It would be nice to also hear public remarks defending this absurd appointment from the chairman and other 'responsible' ESF officers.

His appointment is not defendable. I am surprised this is still in debate now that the facts have come to light. Boards of directors around the world can no longer act like a cosy white old-boys club - why should ESF, a billion dollar company receiving money from the public coffers, be any different?

Besides reversing the appointment and relaunching a search for a more qualified candidate, the board of ESF should step down for this disgraceful way of conducting business like a private club.

I am sure Mr Haynes is a nice person and certainly, having a business person as head of the ESF has merits and is not a bad thing. But leaps in employment opportunities of this magnitude simply do not happen in the real world unless there is a white old-boys club situation at play!

I have three children in ESF schools and am paying handsome fees for their tuition. ESF schools are some of the finest I have ever seen. The outrageous way the board of ESF has gone about this appointment, however, has woken me up to wondering what else is wrong with ESF officers.

The student population at ESF schools seems to have a majority of brown and yellow faces these days. The entire ESF organisation (except the Mandarin teachers and janitors) is white and British.

This needs to change. The ESF must start being more transparent in their dealings.

Sam Moon, Central

There seems to be great debate over the appointment of Mike Haynes as CEO of the ESF.

Since he has gone through the whole selection process, I think he should be given a chance. His lack of a degree may be overshadowed by other aspects of his professional ability. Experience at times does overcome the lack of an academic degree.

The job of a CEO is actually more of a managerial task - taking care of day to day operations, with the support of professional educationists to aid him or her.

Regarding the selection process, I think as parents we should be more concerned about the education of our children and leave the rest to the management of the organisation.

At this stage we do not know whether the new CEO will have any negative impact on education. Not having him take the job will mean the ESF going without a CEO until another is found.

I do not know how many people campaigning against Mr Haynes have actually interacted with him to judge whether he is good enough for the job. I feel we should let the appointment go ahead and look forward to having him as the new CEO.

Name and address supplied

Q Should security be upgraded at social welfare offices?

We have recently introduced more stringent safety measures, including changes to office layout and employment of security guards, in order to offer a reasonable level of protection to our staff.

This is in addition to normal ongoing training and drills, including specialised training on how to handle disturbed and potentially violent clients, fire and evacuation drills. We will keep the situation under constant review, striving always to achieve the right balance between ensuring staff safety and providing a pleasant atmosphere and environment for members of the public.

Currently there are 1.06 million recipients of assistance under the Social Security Assistance and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance schemes who make use of our 38 social security field units. We aim to offer professional service to all. In cases of complaint or disagreement with our decisions, well-publicised appeal channels are available, including the independent Social Security Appeal Board. We consider resorting to violence or aggression to be entirely unacceptable.

R.M.Cartland, assistant director of social welfare (social security)

Q Should mental patients be under closer supervision?

Mental patients who are allowed to live freely are those who have already recovered. If close supervision is imposed, their lives will be no different from being in hospital. If it is believed that mental patients will harm others, why let them go?

One of the aims to let recovered patients go is to provide a chance to start a new life. Will normal people be supervised closely by someone else? People should have confidence in both former mental patients and their doctors. Society needs to give patients a suitable place to adapt to their new lives. The only way to confirm whether a mental patient is completely recovered or not, is to let them reintegrate back to society.

Although there are some cases of mental patients attacking others, they are in a minority. I think there is enough supervision of mental patients at present. It is impossible to supervise a patient on a 24-hour basis.

Yeung Chun-wing, Tsuen Wan

I totally agree with clinical psychologist Kitty Wu Kit-ling that mental patients are not the only dangerous people around us. The general misconception of the public comes from their lack of understanding about the issues involved.

What many people know about mental patients comes from soap operas or films, but not in my case. My uncle suffers from schizophrenia and he has lived with my family for nearly 18 years. When my uncle was young, his disease was discovered and he therefore visited psychiatric nurses and received treatment regularly. He then had a normal life again.

This is a real example to prove not all mental patients are intent on attacking people. I believe the assault case in which a man slashed the two boys was a rare case and we should not label other patients as a result.

If we have closer supervision, they may feel they are being discriminated against. This will lower their self-esteem and make it harder for them to recover. We should show more concern and consideration for them.

Wong Yuen-ka, Shamshuipo

It would be good for society if mental patients were more closely supervised. I do not mean to discriminate, but closer supervision means not only more frequent checks on patients, but also closer relationships between the patients and supervisors such as social workers.

In this way, mental patients can receive better care, which in turn helps smooth their way back into society. Others can more easily accept recovered mental patients if their illnesses are proven to be cured. It is advisable and necessary to have closer supervision of them.

Cathy Tse Yuk-lin, Tsuen Wan

On other matters ...

Twelve months ago, with Hong Kong in the grip of Sars, the hotel trade was on its knees and begging for business from local people. Now, with the tourist dollars pouring in, it would seem that Hong Kong residents are of no interest to them.

I recently tried to book four rooms at a prominent five-star hotel in Causeway Bay for the Saturday of this year's Rugby Sevens, as we had stayed there last year during the same event.

I was unable to repeat the booking this year as there is a 'minimum three-night stay' requirement.

Notwithstanding the fact that a year ago my arm would have been ripped off in an effort to get at the thousands of dollars we were trying to spend, it is outrageous that the Hong Kong hotel business can marginalise the very people that saved its hide such a short time ago.

From calling other hotels it would seem that a widespread cartel is in operation to fleece people of as much cash as possible, with most employing the same policy.

The avarice is astounding and the friends we have coming over from Britain are now convinced they are coming to a clip joint. However, if we steer clear of the hotels perhaps they will still enjoy their stay.

Name and address supplied