Foundation 'has big role to play in development of HK'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 October, 2008, 12:00am

The English Schools Foundation has a major role to play in the international development of the Hong Kong economy, Heather Du Quesnay said.

Asked how she saw the ESF developing, once the subvention issue had been settled, she said that although opportunities for expansion 'are probably quite limited', she saw the ESF playing an increasingly important role in Hong Kong. 'The redevelopment of Hong Kong's economy depends upon there being an effective English-language education sector,' she said.

'I'm certainly very interested in a new school in the New Territories but it would have to be on the basis of no subvention, more like the private independent schools, although the government hasn't announced any interest in new private independent schools for a very long time.'

Ms Du Quesnay confirmed that the ESF had applied for one of the four greenfield sites earmarked for new international schools.

Although the ESF was an English-medium organisation, it viewed proficiency in Chinese as an increasingly important skill and was strengthening teaching of the language.

'Many children are not native Chinese speakers, they probably wouldn't be in the ESF if they were,' she said. 'We are working very hard on upgrading the quality of Chinese-language teaching. We have hired more Chinese teachers over the last two years than we have ever had before. Within the next few years, every primary Year Two student will have a daily Chinese lesson.'

She added that the ESF would be introducing a pathway system so students could be put into groups according to their Chinese ability in language classes.