ESF calls in official auditors

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 April, 2004, 12:00am

The English Schools Foundation has invited the Audit Commission to review its operations to make sure they are cost-effective.

The audit aims to improve the foundation's governance and management.

The move follows repeated accusations by Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung that he suspected the organisation was wasting money.

The ESF has also had to defend itself against a damning letter written by former chief executive Jonathan Harris - released by an anonymous source to the media in February - in which he claimed its management was dysfunctional and finances poorly controlled. It has refuted the allegations.

'This independent review - which is in response to a specific request from the ESF executive committee - will be beneficial and should help the foundation identify areas for improvement,' ESF chairwoman Professor Felice Lieh Mak said.

David Reeves, chairman of the Association of Professional Teachers of ESF Schools and a member of the executive committee, said: 'The executive was all for it, there have been insidious accusations. This is an attempt to remove the insinuations. Parents and students can only benefit.'

Professor Lieh Mak has also asked the Independent Commission Against Corruption to advise the ESF how it can prevent corruption. The audit will continue through the summer, with a report being issued later in the year.

A spokesman for the Education and Manpower Bureau said: 'We welcome the ESF's decision which reflects that its management is accountable for the use of public resources.'