ESF - English Schools Foundation

talk back

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 September, 2005, 12:00am

Q Do you think Hongkongers have an unhealthy lifestyle?

I think Hongkongers have an unhealthy lifestyle because of the sedentary nature of most of our jobs and our eating-out culture.

However, to label 40 per cent of Hongkongers overweight is ridiculous. One only has to walk the streets to realise this statistic is completely wrong.

But let's look at the actual numbers used, which do not match the body mass index (BMI) used by the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC). According to the CDC, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal. This means only 21 per cent of Hongkongers are overweight or obese, not 40 per cent as reported.

Yet the government health office is using a BMI of only 18.5 to 22.9 for normal. The US CDC considers a BMI over 29.9 obese, but the department uses over 25.

Clearly, there has either been a major error or a deliberate attempt to sensationalise this survey. Was it funded by the slimming product industry?

Yes, we Hongkongers don't eat properly and we don't exercise much, but to say that almost half of us are overweight is simply not correct.

Simon Lau, Central

Q Is the ESF pay scale proposal fair and necessary?

Why is everyone rounding on the English Schools Foundation (ESF) teachers all of a sudden? Teachers are one of the most important professions within our society. They help develop our children and mould future generations.

If it is necessary to pay higher salaries to teachers in the ESF system to ensure that our children who wish to be taught in English can get a decent education, then why not pay them?

Stop trying to assassinate them and make out that they are all overpaid; after all, ask any investment banker - statistics can be easily manipulated.

The salary figures that have been bandied about are pure fantasy.

It seems that recently Hong Kong residents have been turning on the most important professions, such as teachers, nurses and policemen, because they have a stable income.

Do people think that these professions have suffered comparatively less during the past few years, and that they should be forced to do so now? How selfish and bloody-minded readers of the SCMP have become.

And, as for an investment banker earning less than $1.5 million a year, do not make me laugh. At least teachers, nurses, policemen and civil servants pay tax on their salaries. How many of you readers who have been attacking these groups can hold your hands up on that?

Winson Chow, Jardines Lookout

The Remuneration Study Group spent many months debating the issue of staff pay in the ESF and concluded that a pay cut is neither necessary nor appropriate.

I would urge readers to examine this document in order to gain a balanced view of ESF teacher pay.

The perception that staff are greedy and overpaid remnants of a colonial age is misplaced and deeply frustrating and is based on misleading figures released by the chief executive, whose pay and conditions really are extravagant and colonial.

The 'average' figure of $950,000 per annum is far in excess of what the majority of staff earn and the public needs to be aware of this.

The ESF provides a high-quality education and teachers in the schools work longer hours than in any other international school in the city and for this their reward is a pay cut and vilification. No wonder morale is so low and talk of resignation so high.

Name and address supplied

Don't worry in the slightest about staff shortages, ESF schools. When all the 'furious' teachers leave, the positions will be instantly applied for by NETs (native-speaking English teachers). There won't be a shortage for long!

Jenny Wu, Kwun Tong

On other matters...

I read with interest Kevin Sinclair's recent column in the South China Morning Post on the lack of street entertainers in Hong Kong ('So why don't we have a vibrant musical background on the streets of Hong Kong?' Kevin Sinclair's Hong Kong, August 31).

I couldn't agree more. This is precisely what Hong Kong is missing. In preparation for the revitalisation of The Peak Tower, my colleagues and I have visited several of the world's most exciting and festive shopping and dining areas, and we found that what really added to the excitement and appeal were lively street performances.

We have therefore decided that buskers and street performers should form a part of the new Peak Tower experience when it reopens next year.

Our challenge, of course, is recruiting them. We are working on this, but we welcome any suggestions on how to find and encourage local talent to act as street performers and entertainers to help enliven the city's most popular tourist destination.

May Tsang, director of marketing, Peak Tramways Company

I would like to add to the comments of 'Name and Address Supplied' on Thursday on the subject of pavement parking.

For taxi drivers to avoid a penalty by stopping on double yellow lines, they simply drive on to the pavement and unload and load their passenger there. All the pedestrians then have to walk on the road, because there is no more space for them to walk on the pavement.

This can be observed the whole day on Kwun Tong Road below the MTR station, a few metres away from the Kwun Tong police station. A simple way to avoid a ticket, never mind the pedestrians. Any comments by the police from the nearby station?

Heinz Egli, Clear Water Bay