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  • Oct 1, 2014
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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. 

NewsHong Kong
EDUCATION

Parents attack ESF's HK$500,000 school place reservation fee

Scrap HK$500,000 charge to reserve a school place or lose government aid, foundation told

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 October, 2012, 5:05am

The English Schools Foundation should scrap its new HK$500,000 charge to reserve a place at its schools or lose its government subvention, parents say.

The government is due to make a decision soon on whether to continue its long-frozen, HK$283 million annual subvention for the foundation.

Under the the scheme, unveiled in September, local and overseas parents wishing to reserve a place in any age group from next year will have to pay a non-refundable HK$500,000 debenture for each child.

Christian Mueller, an ESF parent, said: "It is unreasonable for ESF to impose a HK$500,000 fee as a fast-track option for the rich, when it is running government- subsidised schools.

"ESF's justification, that it is in urgent need of additional funds to renovate ageing schools, is a statement proving poor management. As a professional organisation, they should have built up the appropriate reserves for that. Failure to do so is unprofessional and irresponsible."

The ESF chairman, Carlson Tong Ka-shing, has urged the government to raise the subvention level to that of direct subsidy scheme (DSS) schools.

Until 2000-2001, the subvention was about 30 per cent of the ESF's income, Tong said. Today the frozen subvention represents only 19 per cent of its income.

Cheung Man-kwong, a former legislator and vice-president of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, insisted the HK$500,000 scheme should be scrapped as a precondition for raising the subvention.

Another parent, Karen Chan, argued for government funding for either all international schools or none, to ensure fairness, and for more English-speaking public schools.

Other contributors to the debate agreed there should be more international schools.

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