ESF - English Schools Foundation


PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 3:17pm

Treat new widows with consideration

I refer to the report ('Widow, 78, hid husband's death for 20 years to stay in home she loved', May 6). The harsh policies adopted by the Housing Authority in its treatment of new widows will have shocked many readers.

It is one of the greatest traumas any lady can go through in life, to have to adapt to new and sadder circumstances upon the death of her husband.

Apparently, in such situations, the authority's policy is to immediately eject the new widow from the marital home if she's left as the only tenant in a public housing flat. In these days of greater demand for more caring treatment of our elderly fellow citizens, that cruel policy should be scrapped. At the very least, the widow should be allowed a lengthy period of grace before being ejected from the family home.

The widow in your report had lived with her husband in the same Housing Authority home for more than 20 years. It was therefore hardly surprising that she wished to continue living in that long-term family home, albeit alone, after her husband's death.

The authority should show more understanding of the needs of the recently bereaved by allowing them the grace period I have suggested.

Indeed, it would be more seemly if it were to continue the tenancy for the widow's lifetime, if that is what she wished.

The desperate lady in question unfortunately stooped to [fraud and] forgery to be able to cling on to the tenancy.

It was heartening that the magistrate handled the punishment for her 'crimes' with understanding and leniency.

In fact, such hard cases should never occur.

Will the authority now update its inconsiderate policy, as proposed above, to ensure that such harsh treatment of the recently widowed is never repeated?

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

Think before putting yoga in schools

In the letter ('Have yoga exercises in classroom', May 16), K. P. Daswani says: 'I and many of my friends are living testimony to the efficacy of yoga.' This statement reveals a poor understanding of critical and scientific thinking.

While your correspondent's suggestion for benefiting schoolchildren specifically and society in general is well intentioned, it is not well grounded or thought out.

For example, there have been a number of local studies that have looked at the benefits of tai chi so why choose yoga?

Moreover, why choose these forms of exercise over sport for schoolchildren? Did your correspondent and the friends mentioned claim to have performed yoga regularly when they were at school? Are there long-term studies that show the benefits of yoga and tai chi in people who started while at school?

What is really needed for children is good-quality education that promotes critical thinking and an appreciation of science.

With these wonderful tools bequeathed to children, our future generations will be able to work things out for themselves based on critical and scientific thinking. At the same time, policymakers and well-intentioned people like K. P. Daswani would do well to learn about and use these tools.

Will Lai, Western

Artists need affordable workspaces

Creative industries help to boost the innovative capacity of Hong Kong's economy. Unfortunately, local artists in Hong Kong are facing great hardship owing to the government's policy of revitalising old industrial buildings.

The policy has led to property speculation that has driven up rents, leaving artists unable to afford their workspaces.

Instead of turning a blind eye to the problem, the government should sell certain units to local artists at an affordable price so creative industries can survive.

Furthermore, an organisation should be formed to prevent speculation in old industrial buildings.

The government should be committed to the long-term development of Hong Kong's creative industries. It should be actively nurturing a pool of creative human capital by financial and other forms of support.

Citizens should encourage creativity within their communities so that Hong Kong can be seen as an innovative city.

This is an issue that involves different stakeholders, including the SAR government, and they should all get involved.

Sakina Ma, To Kwa Wan

School woes keep foreign talent away

I refer to James Walker's letter ('ESF neglecting its obligations in favour of profit', May 13).

Like Mr Walker, we have an English-speaking child who cannot access the local system and who has been unsuccessful in gaining a place at an English Schools Foundation school.

The ESF tells us we are not alone - however, this is cold comfort.

It also tells us that all its schools on Hong Kong Island have long waiting lists of native English-speaking children due to start school this September. I agree with many of the assertions made in Mr Walker's letter regarding the ESF system and would raise two further issues.

Firstly, the reality for many Western parents who do not have an ESF or international school place is that they will leave Hong Kong, depriving the city of valuable commercial and professional talent.

We are now actively considering leaving Hong Kong, as we do not have a place for our child to start school in September.

Secondly, the shortage of ESF and international school places will deter foreign families from coming to work in Hong Kong, with the loss of skills and wealth creation to the city that implies.

Put another way: who in their right mind would come to Hong Kong to work knowing they could not obtain a school place for their child?

It is disappointing, but perhaps not surprising, that the Education Bureau and ESF do not seem to realise that in not responding fast enough to the increased demand for international school places by Western parents, they seriously undermine Hong Kong's reputation as an international centre.

David Parker, Chung Hom Kok

Selfish make pollution and traffic worse

Take a walk around Central and Western and you realise why we have traffic and roadside pollution problems.

Two and three lanes are reduced to one, and four lanes down to two or even one. Few roads have all their lanes utilised. Traffic regulations are not enforced. Cars wait on single and double yellow lines with the engine running. Ask a driver to switch off, and one is usually subjected to verbal abuse.

Asia's world city is brought to a polluted standstill by the selfish. Recently I walked down Ice House Street at around 10.30am and saw a car waiting, engine running, on a double yellow line. When I passed again at 2.30pm, the car, engine running and driver asleep, had not moved. Free parking on a double yellow line in Central for more than four hours - now that is a real bargain.

Norman de Brackinghe, Pok Fu Lam

Turn off air conditioners to save planet

I am concerned about rising temperatures in Hong Kong, as recorded by the Observatory.

When it gets so hot in the summer it can be difficult to sleep without switching on the air conditioner. I do try, as far as possible, to keep it off, because I realise the effect that air-cons have on global warming. It is important that we all realise that the things we do can have an adverse effect on the environment.

We all have to do our best to counter global warming. Even in the summer, we should think twice about switching on air conditioners. Sometimes just taking a cold bath can make you feel more comfortable.

If more people take responsibility, we have a better chance of saving the environment for future generations.

Keith Cheng, Sheung Shui

New diploma gives pupils more choice

Some people have asked if the new Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education is better than the old system, that is, the Certificate of Education and A-level examinations.

I think the diploma is an improvement. It allows students to choose their elective subjects taking into account their abilities and interests. Their elective subjects no longer have to be fixed, that is, either science or liberal arts.

This gives pupils greater choice.

Chareen Ma, Sha Tin