ESF - 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. 

'Educational apartheid' hitting expats

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 March, 2013, 10:57am
 

I refer to Pierce Lam's letter ("ESF admission policy smacks of segregation", February 19).

I agree with Mr Lam's argument about segregation in Hong Kong's education system, and would even go so far as saying that this city is currently plagued by an "educational apartheid".

I share his view that the practice of offering two segregated systems of subsidised English-medium education - one for Chinese and the other for non-Chinese - is long out of date and no longer relevant in post-colonial Hong Kong.

I wish to add that, instead, we should have a "one size fits all" subsidised education system - one that accommodates everyone, whether it be local Chinese, mainland Chinese, Westerners, ethnic minorities or other foreign expatriates.

Mr Lam insists that we must respect our local schools, and further states that in Asian countries like Japan, expatriates who want public education for their children have to send them to local schools.

He even boasts about Hong Kong's local schools supposedly being "superior" to schools in Japan and in most of our expatriates' home countries.

I would like to ask Mr Lam one question. If our local schools really are so superior to schools in other places, why are we seeing so few non-Chinese members of our society sending their children to these schools?

One answer to that I can give is that local schools are reluctant to take on non-Chinese or non-Cantonese speaking children.

On the one hand, Mr Lam criticises the English Schools Foundation for promoting educational segregation, but on the other hand, he fails to acknowledge the local schools' contribution to this dilemma. So, because of this, the choice given to the city's expatriates is loud and clear: extortionate international schools, the ESF, or leave Hong Kong.

As many of us are aware, due to limited places at international and ESF schools, many expats are left with only the third choice.

As your correspondent correctly points out, we hear about expats in other cities in the region sending their children to local schools with seemingly little trouble.

I'm sure that this is another reason why many foreigners are leaving Hong Kong, as they search elsewhere in the region for better schooling opportunities for their children.

If this city is supposedly Asia's world city, why is our "superior" education system failing to adopt a similar approach to those of other parts of the world?

Andrew Nunn, Tai Po

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