ESF - English Schools Foundation

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