Local schools cannot meet the needs of children who don't speak Cantonese

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 May, 2011, 12:00am


I am writing in response to the letter written by Cynthia Sze ('End public funding for ESF schools', May 24).

Ms Sze is clearly unaware of the major differences between local schools and those which offer a non-local curriculum.

Teaching styles, learning styles, and even thinking styles differ dramatically between the two types of school.

The English Schools Foundation is not 'practically indistinguishable from local schools'.

It was designed to cater for non-Cantonese-speaking children who were not used to a rote learning system to allow them to continue their education outside Britain.

What has happened over the years is that more and more middle-class local parents have become disillusioned with the local system and opted to put their children into ESF schools instead.

This has resulted in fewer places for non-Cantonese-speaking children. Contrary to Ms Sze's suggestion that expatriate parents are making 'groundless allegations that local schools exclude foreign applicants', the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association recently conducted research that proves local schools do not want non-Cantonese speaking students.

It is not a question of 'expats not daring to expose their children to the competition of local schools'; local schools are not able to accommodate non-Cantonese-speaking children.

Ms Sze very thoughtfully points to two schools she believes are perfectly adequate for non-Cantonese-speaking children. There are more than 1,000 native English-speaking teachers in Hong Kong, not to mention the large number of foreigners employed in various management positions across the SAR.

Two schools really aren't enough to provide places for the growing number of non-Cantonese-speaking children who live here.

As was mentioned by David Parker ('School woes keep foreign talent away', May 20), more foreigners are being forced to leave because we cannot get our children educated here.

I am sure many Hongkongers who still smart at the memory of the city's colonial past will be glad to see us go.

Asia's real world cities, Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing, are welcoming us with open arms. Let's see how their economies fare as a result, shall we?

Amanda Chapman, chairperson, Native English Speaking Teachers' Association