PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 July, 2008, 12:00am

It is time to trim the fat off

the ESF by eliminating its unnecessary central body

In the past few years, I have been trying to figure out the role of the ESF central body. Honestly, I don't see why it is necessary. I think the schools are quite capable of operating independently and there will be much savings if the Foundation is dismantled.

This central body has a lot of highly paid executives, whose functions and contributions to education remain unclear. Perhaps it's time the various ESF schools go independent.

Yes, each school will face higher administrative costs but we can more than cover this if we dispense with that extra layer of senior management. A clear advantage of going independent is greater accountability of funds. Maybe then parents will face fewer fee increases and PTA volunteers will get a break from the constant need to raise funds.

It is also puzzling to learn that the ESF has made a loan to ESL. When did we, parents who paid school fees to fund the Foundation, agree to being lenders? What return will this generate and how will this be used to benefit our children? If ESL's business plan is a viable proposition, they should have no problem raising financing like any other business. The Education Bureau should investigate whether there has been a breach of duty on the part of the ESF's board.

By the way, how large is the pay increase the management of the ESF central body is getting from this round of fee hikes? Who measures their performance and decides on this increase? There is clear discontent with the Foundation - how is this reflected in their evaluations and pay reviews?


Despite report, foreign students enjoy studying in Australia

'Foreign students face a raw deal Down Under' (Education Post, June 21) demands a response.

One of many alarmist claims is that more than 40 international students had been killed in Australia since June last year, a statement that I cannot find in the actual research report on which the Education Post item was based.

Each of these 40 deaths was a uniquely tragic event.

But if this figure is accurate, Hong Kong parents can take comfort from the fact that Australia provides a safe and welcoming environment in which their children can study.

From the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, one in 1,750 young people 20-24 in Australia dies every year. If international students followed that trend, 211 of the 370,000 international students in Australia, including 97 of the 170,000 at universities, would die each year.

That the death rate among international students apparently is so low suggests that these students are leading healthy lifestyles and avoiding risky behaviour.

I hope that the other statistics in the item, and in the research report on which the item was based, are better grounded in fact.

International students actually enjoy the Australian experience. A study for Australian Education International in 2006, covering 7,267 international students in Australia, including 1,983 from the mainland and Hong Kong, found that 85 per cent were satisfied with living in Australia, 84 per cent were satisfied with the study experience and 87 per cent would recommend studying in Australia to their families and friends.

ALAN OLSEN, Strategy Policy and Research in Education Limited Hong Kong

Course for 'elderly' has some homework to do

I was interested to read in the Class Notes section (Education Post, June 28) that a 10-day course for those over 50 will soon be provided by the Po Leung Kuk and the HKPU. However, some of the topics seem bizarre for such people, including as they do 'coffee culture' (what's that?) and even 'grooming'. You might think that people of 50 and more could give lessons to youngsters on that topic, rather than the other way round. But the most amusing, and most inappropriate, thing about this 10-day course is the title: 'The Elderly Mini-U'. People of 50 are not usually regarded elsewhere as elderly, a term more properly applied to those who are retired.

In France, they have found a much more tactful name: The University of the Third Age. We may hope that, before their second childhood really sets in, one of these 'elderly' students can assist the course providers by proposing a more suitable name.


Education Bureau should ensure teachers are fully qualified

As teachers are being recruited for the coming year, I would like to express my views. Any person recruited as a teacher, whether a local or overseas candidate, should be academically qualified. There is a provision in the Education Ordinance for teachers to be 'permitted' or 'registered'. A registered teacher has completed a recognised teacher training course at a university while permitted teachers have not. The later is unheard of in other jurisdictions, so why does our government allow this to continue? Native English-speaking Teachers should also be fully qualified with a teaching degree and/or postgraduate qualification. A TEFL certificate does not qualify as a teaching qualification. Such a certificate is only equivalent to four weeks of full-time study. Our government is spending a lot of money on the scheme and only qualified teachers should be considered. If the Education Bureau cared, they would do away with this practice immediately. For parents whose schools have fully qualified teachers, i.e. those with teaching degrees, I say your children are lucky. As for the rest, our children deserve better. The bureaucrats working in the bureau should exercise a little common sense.

C.CHUI, Yuen Long