ESF - English Schools Foundation

Government should improve local schools instead of giving ESF a subsidy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 August, 2011, 12:00am

I refer to the ongoing debate about the English Schools Foundation (ESF) subsidy.

It seems a number of your correspondents have used this as an excuse to make bigoted remarks towards the expatriate community in Hong Kong.

I should first note that I do not wish to take sides and that I merely wish to voice my opinion on the issue of the ESF subsidy.

I believe the root of this debate is simply about English- language education.

As important as it may be for many parents to send their children to English-medium schools, I think the government should not just look at the ESF, but should focus more on improving the sorry state of our local schools. In particular, it needs to improve English learning. As P. Chan rightly pointed out ('No need to subsidise the ESF schools', July 29), why should the ESF receive special treatment?

At the end of the day, the government should do what is right for the vast majority of Hong Kong's residents rather than a handful of parents who would rather not have their children educated the local way. Effective English learning should be for all children, not just a privileged few.

I also wish to point out that Chinese, in particular Putonghua, is also of the utmost importance, especially as Hong Kong is in fact a Chinese city.

The fact that many people who have graduated from ESF schools lack proficiency in Chinese highlights a failure on the ESF's part to educate students in this area, which in this day and age is simply not acceptable.

Many expatriate parents claim they have no choice but to send their children to ESF schools simply because the local schools won't accept non-Cantonese-speaking children.

This requirement has no place in a city like Hong Kong, and only creates more barriers between locals and foreigners. The Education Bureau ought to find a way to integrate children from different backgrounds, not segregate them.

For those reasons, I do not support the ESF subsidy. The real subsidy should instead go towards sorting out the dire state of the local school system.

If these schools can get their act together, perhaps more parents, both local and foreign, will be inclined to send their children to them rather than ESF schools.

Andrew Nunn, Stanley