PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 December, 2010, 12:00am

Parents often have to opt for ESF school

I write in response to Louis Wong's letter regarding the English Schools Foundation's school fees and his perception that ESF parents choose those schools because they provide a better education and can afford it ('Stop whingeing over ESF fees', December 20).

As a long-term resident in Hong Kong, I sent both my children to local schools from age three to age nine and eight respectively. At this point, it was sadly obvious that they were not able to learn efficiently in a totally Chinese environment.

After lengthy discussion with their school, we decided to move them (individually) to the ESF system.

Their time spent at a local school was invaluable in helping them learn Cantonese, but with no home Chinese support and only a few hours each evening with a tutor, it was clear they could not function fully in a Chinese environment.

I do not enjoy paying the ESF fees. I would choose a free or subsidised English-speaking school if a place were available. However, they are not.

To cap this, our son has just completed university, which we do not believe would have been possible had he been in a totally Chinese learning environment for his entire schooling. This is said in no disrespect to local schooling, which we greatly appreciated. As an English-speaking household, we simply could not provide the home support our children needed to flourish academically.

Sharon Chandler, Lamma

Some jobs are bad for planet

It was pleasing to read that company prospectuses and reports in Hong Kong no longer have to be distributed as hard copies ('Printers face hard times as reports go online', December 6). This will be a great benefit to the environment.

According to Green Sense, prospectuses used up the equivalent of more than 15,000 trees in 2006. This a waste of raw materials and it contributes to global warming by reducing the amount of CO{-2} absorbed by trees.

However, the suggestion that this new measure is bad news for printing firms serves to highlight a well-understood fact: that, in Hong Kong and indeed all over the world, many people make a living by deliberately destroying the environment.

There are any number of examples - manufacturers making goods with built-in obsolescence; shops and restaurants with excessive lighting and air conditioning; fishermen who trawl for critically depleted stocks; office staff who make unnecessary photocopies just to look busy, and individuals who drive alone in big cars just for their own convenience or 'face'.

These activities are an assault on our environment, and these people should be seen for what they are - public enemies.

It is understandable that workers should try to protect their jobs, but governments also have a responsibility to help them find less destructive ways to make their living. One simple truth which is still ignored by most Hong Kong residents is that they share this planet with every other species and that, as global citizens, they have responsibilities towards their fellow creatures everywhere.

Michael John Jones, Stanley

Dangerous distraction

I refer to the report 'Minibus' high crash rate fails to spur action', (December 22).

I would like to point out another safety issue, which affects taxi passengers. I took a taxi last Thursday and it had two cellular phones attached to the dashboard. The driver kept on taking calls for more fares. I do not know how he could drive safely when he was distracted in this way. If taxi drivers are allowed to do this, then there is an accident waiting to happen.

My driver had to swerve to avoid other cars and was always braking.

I was shocked by the experience and thankful that I arrived at my destination safely. The relevant authorities should look into this practice by taxi drivers.

Magdalen Yum, Mid-Levels

Ability to teach is so important

I back the decision of some universities to send junior faculty members to schools to improve their teaching techniques. This scheme should be extended to all educational institutions in Hong Kong.

When universities are interviewing job applicants, they will look at their research record, but this does not reflect their ability to teach.

I once had a teacher in school who had been a university lecturer. Sadly, I did not learn a lot from her, even though she was an expert in her field. If she could not teach secondary-school pupils effectively, it is really hard for me to imagine how she would be able to get her message across to university students. This lack of effective teaching can also be a problem in primary and secondary schools.

Students should be allowed to evaluate the performances of teachers and schools can use that feedback when deciding whether or not the teachers need retraining.

Minnie Poon Kin-kwan, Tsuen Wan

Young people have clear goals

There is general public misconception about today's youths.

The media has labelled them the 'post-80s generation' and criticises them for not being independent.

In fact, there are still a lot of Hong Kong youngsters who have goals. The media just picks some bad examples and then makes negative generalisations about all young people.

Many of the younger generation are keen to own their own home, but this dream is difficult to realise because the property market is overheating. Few of them earn high wages so it is difficult for them to find the deposit they need.

Despite these obstacles, a lot of young people have aspirations about the future. I hope the government can help them and give them a chance to buy their own home.

Gillian Lui Man-yan, Tsuen Wan

Ignorance of internet risks

Facebook enjoys worldwide popularity; however, many people do not think about the information they provide online.

I appreciate that it is a useful tool that enables individuals to chat with their friends. But some users can be careless when it comes to revealing personal data.

Youngsters are especially guilty of not thinking when they type in personal details on Facebook.

They will often include their full names, addresses, phone numbers, photos and the name of the school they attend.

All this data can be abused by criminal elements.

The leak of such personal data can cause serious problems for individuals.

An increasing number of people in America and Britain, and even Hong Kong, make use of the data they are able to obtain on Facebook to commit crimes. Young people must take greater care when dealing with their personal data online.

Schools and parents have a responsibility to educate youngsters so they deal responsibility with such information and protect themselves from criminals.

The government should set up a task force to tackle the problem of the leaking of personal data through the internet and send a clear message to the public that inappropriate use of the internet can be dangerous.

Grace Kwong Yuk-pui, Tsing Yi

Scheme will help pensioners

As one of the first to propose the introduction of reverse mortgages in Hong Kong, the Business and Professionals Federation commends the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation's announcement of the pilot reverse mortgage scheme ('HKMC to launch reverse mortgage scheme next year', December 17).

With an ageing society, Hong Kong needs to think outside the box and come up with a wide range of solutions to help retirees finance their retirement to maintain a reasonable standard of living.

We believe that reverse mortgages will provide a cushion for those with assets but little or no income after retirement.

The scheme proposed by the HKMC also allows flexibility because the elderly can choose a 10-year, 15-year, 20-year or lifetime scheme.

The reverse mortgage, although well established elsewhere, is a new idea to Hong Kong and the issue of consumer protection needs to be taken into consideration.

It is important that the elderly receive sufficient advice before deciding to enter the scheme.

Michael Somerville, consultant, the Business and Professionals Federation of Hong Kong

Stunned by violence on TV

As I sat with my young family at a restaurant at 8.20 on the night of December 16 watching Hong Kong free-to-air TV, within 10 minutes I saw the following delights broadcast in local TV dramas.

A gang armed with choppers threatening their enemies, a murder victim carried away in a large bag with blood dripping out of the bottom and a couple beating each other.

I was stunned that nobody in the restaurant showed any reaction, despite numerous young children being present.

My small son's eyes were popping out of his head.

We really need to ask if this is responsible broadcasting.

Is it what we want anyone to be watching at 8.30 at night?

How much violence in society is encouraged by such TV programmes?

What type of society blindly accepts such displays of gratuitous violence? Maybe I'm getting a bit old, but I politely changed the channel.

Patrick Gilbert, Lam Tin