Letters to the Editor, July 2, 2014

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2014, 4:54am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2014, 4:54am

School is vital for ethnic minorities

I refer to the report ("Parents seek permanent home for school", June 20) about St Margaret's Girls' College on Caine Road.

No one can dispute the claim that a school that is a proven success in providing a multicultural campus eagerly embraced by Hong Kong's ethnic minorities is good for our education system, as it offers parents an affordable choice for their children's schooling.

The choices open to ethnic minority children are limited. Not knowing Cantonese, with English as their language for everyday communication or GCSE Chinese as a school subject, there are few schools that cater to their needs. International schools are financially beyond their reach.

Ethnic minorities have been subjected to discriminatory or unfair treatment in this city, making Hong Kong a laughing stock among developed societies.

It falls to the Education Bureau to demonstrate a commitment to preserving a sustainable multicultural school development in the interests of justice and fair treatment to ethnic minorities.

St Margaret's Girls' College, has, for many years, been pursuing and upholding this multicultural ideal.

While many local schools are failing due to insufficient enrolment, our school has little problem attracting students, some from as far away as Tuen Mun.

As our school premises lease runs out, we are faced with relocating to temporary accommodation for a five-year term provided by the government, but it has imposed a condition that forbids us from recruiting students, thus sealing its fate.

If the government fails to allow us to continue enrolling students and does not give us a lease with a viable or longer term, Hong Kong stands to lose an affordable school that has been the first choice of disadvantaged ethnic minority students for the past 49 years.

The government is well-intentioned, trying so hard to rescue schools with falling enrolment.

Why not come to the aid of a thriving school with a special mission that is popular with students and parents?

Eddie Lei, chairman, School Management Committee, St Margaret's Girls' College


Children can benefit from NET scheme

I refer to the letter by Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee about the native-speaking English teacher scheme ("NET scheme needs overhaul to improve its effectiveness", June 27).

Has Mrs Ip visited one of the numerous schools using the Education Bureau's NET section "primary literacy programme - reading and writing"? Is she aware that this programme is integrated into schools' English curriculums and directly and indisputably assists students to cope with the territory-wide system assessment English proficiency tests in Primary Three and Primary Six?

Is she aware of the overwhelming support given to the scheme by parents and educators? Has she been to the bureau's NET section and discussed her concerns with the bureau?

I teach in a school where many children are from lower socio-economic public housing. Some are new arrivals from the mainland and some have special learning needs.

I am reviewing the reading abilities and levels of my Primary One to Three students. Their progress is outstanding. And yes, I do correct grammar.

Through team work, we ensure the children can at least read and write in English to their best potential.

I have had excellent support from the bureau's NET section and my school. These sort of results occur in numerous schools with NETs. Of course there are schools which are not as successful within the scheme.

Mrs Ip should get her facts right before generalising and calling the scheme a "waste of taxpayers' money".

Her letter is not only deeply offensive for people like myself who work hard to implement the NET scheme but also smacks of political point-scoring and hidden agendas.

Patrick Gilbert, Fo Tan


Will quality of degrees be compromised?

City University plans to sell its Community College ("Students up in arms over college sale plan", June 27).

This is a prime example of taking a materialistic approach to education. Looked at superficially, there may appear nothing wrong with selling a community college, as its registration is in the form of a company. But you have to look beyond commercial activity.

Education is an intangible asset and it is of utmost importance for the long-term development of our society.

What if the sale goes ahead and the college is managed by a company that is not connected to the university? Under such circumstances, there can be no guarantee that the present standards with regard to teaching quality can be maintained.

If people were awarded associate degrees, there would be uncertainty about who would recognise them if they were no longer from City University.

Students at the college are entitled to feel aggrieved. And they know nothing about the intended sale except what they have read in the press. The government and university authorities must accept responsibility for what has happened.

The government should exercise its authority to demand more information from the university. Careful thought should be given by the university about the purpose of education.

Hopefully, the university will reconsider its plans to sell the college and the status quo will be maintained.

Camilla Lam, Kwun Tong


Unable to report lost credit card

I refer to the letter from Devon Bovenlander ("Bank card rejected at airport ATMs", June 26) in which she says, "thank goodness for Visa cards". I can only assume your correspondent does not have the misfortune to rely on an HSBC credit card.

Earlier this month, I lost my credit card in London. As soon as I realised it had gone, I called the HSBC credit card hotline to report the loss. I was put on hold. I waited and waited Finally, I hung up and called again. I called the card centre nine times and spent more than HK$500 on hold without ever managing to report the card lost.

Why don't HSBC hotline staff answer the phone? After much digging, I finally got to the bottom of it. These staff have a dual function: while you are trying to report your credit card lost, they are busy cold-calling customers to promote new products. They simply don't have time for you.

Customers who desperately need to speak to them are put on hold because they are calling people who have no interest whatsoever in listening to them. Welcome to the bizarre world of HSBC customer service.

Andrew Stokes, Sai Kung


Happier with Citibank's service

I can sympathise with the inconvenience Devon Bovenlander experienced through having an account with HSBC ("Bank card rejected at airport ATMs", June 26).

It has happened to me way too many times and, despite the complaints customers have been expressing to HSBC, it takes no action.

Well, HSBC, I have moved my accounts to Citibank and the service is excellent.

HSBC can't come close to the service and convenience Citibank provides.

Keep it up, HSBC, and watch more of your customers leave.

Steven Koh, Wan Chai