ESF - English Schools Foundation

Letters to the Editor, November 7, 2012

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2012, 12:49am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2012, 1:57am

Why ESF cannot adopt local system

I refer to the report (“ESF warned over local curriculum”, November 1).

I feel that by suggesting the English Schools Foundation follow the local curriculum in order to benefit from the government subvention, the secretary for education is missing the point of the purpose of the ESF in Hong Kong.

Many expatriate families are only here for a limited time. It is not in their interests to integrate fully into the local system by studying Chinese, nor is it in their best interests since the local system differs greatly from the international system.

It is also worth pointing out that the vast majority of students in ESF schools nowadays are the children of middle-class local parents, who have voted with their feet and removed their children from the local system as soon as they were able.

The ESF was established to provide an affordable international education for students whose home country was not necessarily in Asia and whose mother tongue was not Cantonese. By freezing the subvention, the government has forced the ESF to increase fees to a point where it is now a struggle for ordinary expat families to educate their children here.

People like me, who are here to teach English in local schools, are being forced to leave Hong Kong because of a lack of affordable school places for our own children. Other professionals are no longer willing to come here.

By removing the ESF as an option for foreigners, the government will ensure that English-language education becomes the privilege of the moneyed elite. That really is a return to the colonial days.

Amanda Chapman, chairperson, Native English Speaking Teachers’ Association


Many NGOs are really helping people

I refer to Jake van der Kamp’s column (“Keeping Oxfam out of the NGO rabble”, November 1).

While I share his admiration for Oxfam’s work, I found his condemnation of non-governmental organisations gratuitous and unwarranted.

He writes that “most NGOs take care of themselves before they take care of others”.

Where is his evidence for this? A conversation he had with a friend in Africa who disliked NGOs and a documentary he saw showing an NGO worker using a swimming pool at an exclusive residence. As a former director of an NGO programme in China, I have visited many NGOs on the mainland.

I can assure van der Kamp that the workers there are not leading luxurious lifestyles.

I’m wondering if he ever visited Guo Jianmei’s NGO in Beijing, which works out of cramped offices in a dingy high- rise to protect the rights of women, or the Refugee Advice Centre right here in Hong Kong?

Your columnist should visit these places and tell your readers what he finds.

Robert Precht, Central


We simply do not need this artificial beach

I have serious concerns about the proposed man-made beach at Lung Mei, which is unnecessary.

We have no lack of beaches in Hong Kong.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department manages 41 gazetted beaches and that does not include the private ones.

Many of them offer spectacular views and it is clear that Hongkongers are happy with the beaches they already have, so what is the point of tarnishing a unique part of our coastline just for a leisure development?

Besides, I do not believe this man-made beach will match the government’s expectations.

It will have to spend a great deal of money on this project, including the supply of sand every year and the hiring of lifeguards.

The artificial beach at the Gold Coast in Tuen Mun has proved costly and lost a substantial amount of sand in 2008, which resulted in its temporary closure.

Also, officials should not ignore the importance of precious wildlife habitats.

Due to various developments in Hong Kong, including the airport, many of these important habitats have already been lost and, once they are gone, we cannot get them back.

There is a diversity of marine life at Lung Mei and their habitat should be preserved for future generations to learn about them.

I would support the building of an eco-pool. Visitors could then spend time observing the animals that use this pool.

It would be environmentally friendly and could also be used by people who want to have a relaxing swim.

The citizens of Hong Kong and animals in that habitat are stakeholders and should be entitled to share it and benefit from it.

Carlie Chan Ka-lai, Kowloon City


Poverty line is important for Hong Kong

The gap between rich and poor is growing.

In order to deal with this problem effectively and help reduce the number of citizens on such low incomes, the Hong Kong government must have an official and internationally recognised poverty line.

This will enable officials to more accurately measure and determine the scale of the problem and work out how best to help the poor. The plight of people living with such financial difficulties has been made worse by the rising rate of inflation.

They find it increasingly difficult to pay for daily necessities.

Officials must ensure the line is neither too high nor too low. They can look at poverty lines set by other governments as a general guideline.

Neil Leung Ngo-yin, Tai Wai


Psy’s song a wake-up call for pop stars

Major Asian bands such as The Wonder Girls and Big Bang have enjoyed enormous success in the region, but found it hard to break into the Western market.

However, the South Korean singer Psy has become enormously popular with this song Gangnam Style, which has had more than 600 million hits on YouTube.

Unlike so many other Asian stars, Psy does not have a model’s figure or looks and his song is not even the mainstream style of [Korean] K-pop.

Its success shows that people want something different. Many K-pop stars may be beautiful, but often they do not really entertain audiences. I hope some of these stars will see Gangnam Style as a wake-up call for the Korean pop scene and persuade them to think more about what their audiences really want to see.

Vanessa Lee, Kwai Chung


Allow lonely elephant to leave zoo

I agree with your columnist Alex Lo (“Manila, free Mali the elephant now!” October 30).

It is cruel to treat a creature in this way, with Mali having been on her own at Manila Zoo for 35 years.

We’re all equal residents on earth. Yet humans are different in that we have the power to create a better home for all creatures around the world instead of a weapon to harm them, as we do in so many ways.

I hope Mali can be freed in the near future from the zoo and be transferred to the sanctuary in Thailand which has offered to take her in.

Linlin Zhao, Shanghai