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English Schools Foundation

The English Schools Foundation (ESF) operates five secondary schools, nine primary schools and a school for students with special educational needs across Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. It is the largest international educational foundation in Asia. 


Colonial attitude towards education

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 3:03am

I refer to the letter from Amanda Chapman, chairperson of the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association (Nesta) ("Why ESF cannot adopt local system", November 7).

Given that she represents Nesta, this may give the impression that most native-English-speaking teachers (NETs) support her views.

However, I wish to make it clear that Ms Chapman does not speak for most NETs in Hong Kong, and she definitely does not speak for me.

A person coming to Hong Kong to teach English should not expect this city to change to suit him or her. I am a NET and a former member of Nesta. I am also a mother of two children. One is in the local school system and the other soon will be.

Certainly, I would love my children to attend an English Schools Foundation school or any international school but the fact is, that is a privilege of the "moneyed elite" as Ms Chapman described, and globally always has been.

So, those people coming to Hong Kong for work should take that into consideration.

Upon weighing the cost of ESF or international education, if one realises one cannot afford these schools, one should not expect the government to foot the bill. By doing so, one displays an entitled and irresponsible attitude.

I would suggest it is the responsibility of the Education Bureau to work with foreign teachers to devise ways to make the local school system more accessible to foreign children. The local school system has huge differences from the international system; however, it is not inferior.

Foreign teachers who do not have the time or interest to send their children to local schools to learn Chinese have a "get rich quick and get out" mentality and it may be better for them to go elsewhere.

This lack of interest in learning from the culture is disrespectful and paints all teachers who are foreigners as whining, spoiled and unreasonable.

Ms Chapman's idea seems to be to come to Hong Kong, have the government give her a break to have an elitist education for her children while badmouthing the local system. This smacks more of colonialism than anything the government is doing with regard to funding the ESF.

I am grateful for the wonderful job I get to go to every day.

Miranda Wong, Yuen Long


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This article is now closed to comments

I don't suggest that you think like me. But it is not helpful to make ad hominem attacks on people who put forward arguments you don't like. I have no idea whether Amanda Chapman is a good teacher or not, and frankly neither do you.
Do you agree that it is "the responsibility of the Education Bureau to work with foreign teachers to devise ways to make the local school system more accessible to foreign children".
Every open forum like SCMP’s has an implicit honor system:
Everyone is equal and must defend one’s opinion
You made an accusation of ad hominem
You chose to join the ESF subsidy discussion
Your comments in these two forums were
pointed, condescending and personal one-sentence opinions
as if they were backed up by reasons and evidence.
If you run away from your own opinions when challenged,
you cheapen your own intelligence
We expect you to respect your readers and yourself
I personally want you to do better; I can’t bear the pathetic scene of escapees
And I can see exits from the situations you find yourself
You may not be a bad person although your comments seem shallow and biased
I’d pass you if your defence isn’t too bad.
You have until 5pm today to respond
I’d respond to readers who care to comment on my opinions
But I don’t like checking archives to find them
Sorry, I shouldn’t have presumed your continued incapability of Q&A in discussions.
Show us you know what you’re talking about
adH is a serious allegation.
Can you point out these adH attacks?
What are these adH, and whom did they attack?
ctringham (NOV26) should clarify his allegations about “ad hominm attacks”
What are these adH, and whom did they attack?
He is responsible for consequences of his speculative generalization
He raised questions about the city’s 7M people
Whether they would, and what if, they think like pslhk?
Let the people answer the former. I addressed the latter.
I think it’d be better for HK if we all think like Alex Lo and not think like Cheng MK
Is that adH against Cheung MK?
SCMP articles used to entail a scale for readers appraisal
If I rate the articles of JvdK 5(best) and TH 1(worst), would that be adH against TH?
Readers know JvdK and TH better than they know fellow readers.
I assured them that it’s better for them to think like me than think like ctringham.
I know even those disagree would want their children to get into the universities that helped me think like I do.
Even if ctringham had similar education (an alumnus? -unlikely-), we may still compare my evidence-based arguments with his pitiful aping of Socrates.
We may imagine a dimwitted 3-year old, keep asking questions without trying first to find and evaluate his/her own answers and keep ignoring answers in adults’ patient replies.
I like debates, but not on that level!
e.g., his simple-minded query about EB’s “responsibility” to provide “special” education for NETs children without first referring to related contracts and facts. And this issue deviates from Ms Wong’s rejoinder to AC.
You should look up "ad hominem" on Google, and my quotation was from Miranda Wong's letter that you liked so much. Well, you liked parts of it that support your anti-ESF agenda.
Your problem is vast quantities of irrelevant "evidence".
Your problem is you try too hard to defend AC that you inexplicably disregard readers’ compelling evidence about her I&P which is the principal issue. EB’s “responsibility” is a separate issue, my comments on which stay valid irrespective of origin of the suggestion. It won’t detract from the principal issue for which you abused the term adH (see Wiki).
Sha Tin College (ESF) had a 99.4% pass rate for their GCSEs and A-levels and was ranked one of the best schools in Asia (when based solely on academic performance). However that was some time ago so do not know about now.
I think there must be some diversity in both ESF and local school systems, with regards to academic performance. In the end of the day, some children will succeed regardless of what schooling they undergo. Children are designed to learn, its not so much what we as teachers do but what we DO NOT do that could stop them from engaging in that natural learning process, IMHO.
"The local school system has huge differences from the international system; however, it is not inferior."
Amen. I am a product of a local school decades ago. Many of my Hong Kong schoolmates went to some of the best universities in the world.
I quote a few lines from one of my recent emails on this subject:
"Let's get down to the brass knuckle level: the price performance issue of these schools.
Which schools score higher in GSCE, SAT and IB exams, local schools such as St. Paul's, St. Joseph's, or the ESF and international schools? Which schools sent more students to Berkeley, Stanford, MIT, Amherst, Williams, Columbia and the best universities?
Do I see expats children taking a shot at our local schools which have a better record of sending students to the Ivy League?
BTW, in the language neutral PISA test for 15-year olds, our local children are always among the top 3. Doesn't this count for something?"
It is CLEAR from Amanda Chapman’s letters (28may11 and 07nov12) that she is subpar
She can neither write nor think like a respectable teacher.
Silly to rate movies (PG, **** etc) and students (B12 ...) but not teachers
EB should review teachers’ recruitment process and incumbent teachers' standards, especially the NETs whose backgrounds and expectations could be so different from ours.
Ms Wong is the only teacher (local and nes) who cares enough to join the discussion.
That tells us things about the rest!
You can tell from two letters in the SCMP that Amanda Chapman is a "subpar" teacher?
Perhaps one day everyone in Hong Kong will write and think like you.



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