ESF - English Schools Foundation

Fees might not have to go up if ESF ended 'lavish' treatment of staff

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 July, 2011, 12:00am

I am disappointed that the government has yet again demonstrated its ineffectiveness and indecisiveness, after considering to phase out the English Schools Foundation (ESF) subvention.

As an educator and a parent of two children who completed their education in ESF schools, I have personally witnessed the lavish treatment meted to ESF staff. 'Lavish' is the word communicated by its teachers to me when describing their excessive terms of employment.

While interest groups have been vociferous in their concern over fee increases, I have not sensed any concern regarding these 'excesses'.

In their capacity as taxpayers, while demanding that the government continue with the subvention, little concern is expressed regarding accountability from the ESF for the same tax dollars, despite reports about ESF schools enjoying a 'free-riding' arrangement and failing to sign quality assurance contracts ('Subsidy proposal shock for ESF', July 7). Neither have I read of any interest expressed by stakeholders wishing to be actively involved in managing ESF schools.

Hence, it was reassuring to read lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan's views that a clear message needs to be sent to the ESF, to provide an affordable English-medium education. And, if necessary, the Education Bureau should take over the operation of the ESF's publicly funded schools ('Language barriers', July 2).

I consider it a privilege to be teaching at an international school where parents participate in management by volunteering their services to the executive committee. They are actively involved in all decisions, from teacher remuneration to building projects. Our amazing administrators lead by example and staff loyalty is evident in the low turnover rate.

Unlike ESF teachers, we are not wined and dined at five-star hotels. Our annual staff dinner takes place in the students' cafeteria. We buy our own teaching planners, purchase tickets to attend graduation balls, are not provided laptops or fancy staff room facilities and are able to teach without misusing taxpayers' money. Our students procure excellent International Baccalaureate results.

The government needs to ensure that continued excesses are no longer supported by a subvention instead of being pacified by ESF chairman Carlson Tong Ka-shing's unsubstantiated reassurances. Then, perhaps a 20 per cent increase in student fees might not be necessary.

Anjali A. Hazari, Pok Fu Lam