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  • Jul 14, 2014
  • Updated: 11:20pm

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

ESF must provide local curriculum, Eddie Ng says

Foundation will not get funding if it does not provide HK diploma, minister tells lawmakers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 February, 2013, 3:14pm

The English Schools Foundation must introduce a local rather than international curriculum if it wants to keep its subvention, Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim told Legco yesterday.

Ng's statement was immediately rejected by ESF chairman Carlson Tong Ka-shing, who said if the government insisted on withdrawing the foundation's subsidy it should not be done until all present students had passed through the school.

"Current parents must be protected and I know that Mr Ng also agrees on this," he said.

Tong also said the recent decision to introduce a HK$500,000 charge to reserve a school place was meant to raise funds for renovations and it would affect only a very small number of places.

In answer to a lawmaker's question, Ng told the Legislative Council yesterday the subvention would be phased out.

"We have informed the ESF that the existing recurrent subvention should be phased out gradually," he said.

"We will stick with the principle that if it doesn't provide a local curriculum, such as the Hong Kong Diploma for Secondary Education, the subvention model will change.

"It should consider how it can … provide services that fit the local needs in Hong Kong," he said of the schools, which cater for 13,000 children.

The statement raised concerns among parents and teachers, who are divided on whether the foundation should drop the subvention to keep its international curriculum or face an overhaul in order to keep its subsidy and avoid big fee rises.

Tong, who has advocated that the ESF subvention be on par with that given to Direct Subsidy Schools, said the foundation could not sacrifice providing an international curriculum.

He said the government had told him it was considering phasing out the subvention over the next 13 years. But he said no agreement had been reached and parents would be consulted before key decisions were made.

The ESF is the largest English-language curriculum provider in Hong Kong and receives a long-frozen subvention of HK$283 million a year.

Last year, former education secretary Michael Suen Ming-yeung described the school system, which was established in 1967, as a legacy of the colonial era and that funding should ultimately be phased out.

But talks between the foundation and the government have failed to reach an agreement.

The ESF has experienced increasing demand in recent years in light of a shortage of international school places for expatriates, with thousands of pupils on waiting lists.

Concerned parent Hans Ladegaard said it was a sensible proposal for ESF to offer a local curriculum because it received government funding.

But he said if the curriculum was changed, the issue of a waiting list for its international curriculum may also be exacerbated as many parents wanted one.

An ESF teacher, Davies Lesley, said the ESF should not stop providing an international curriculum. "The philosophy of the school has always been international," she said.

Correction: An early version of this story incorrectly quoted teacher Davies Lesley as saying the ESF should stop providing an international curriculum.


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Shame on the CY government!!! this is blackmailing!!! Why should we keep on paying these useless highly paid guys when they do **** work: Eddie NG, CHAN Mo-Po... just a bunch of big LIARS and they claim they want to keep HK as Asia's world city!!! BS la!!! To me education should be provided fairly to all entitled, why do DSS benefit double the amount of an ESF subvention? Does the government know how many local kids are attending ESF schools? They are from local parents or the students themselves are born in HKG. Did they ask themselves why local students are flocking there? They know the reasons but they are just too coward to admit their mistakes with the mother-tongue education policy implemented by Arthur LEE!!!
The statements from Mr. Ng may be very silly but what is the government's alternative? ESF have proven they do not deserve the subsidies. They have been taking the tax payers' money for granted, often waisted the money over the years, did not build the appropriate reserves (re: aging schools requiring renovation), lack accountability etc. ESF themselves are the ones that are moving away from affordable education. They themselves have introduced a HK$ 500,000.-- fast track entry, effectively bringing these spaces on the same level as the most expensive international schools in HKG. ESF may claim that only 10% of the new spaces come with that price tag. But accumulated over years, hey, what does that mean? It means ESF have become regular international schools, at least price wise. Whereas I am a strong supporter of affordable English medium education in HKG, nobody can expect the government to continue any subvention for that. I think the government, as silly as this latest demand for a local curriculum may sound, is not to blame here. Let's face it. English medium education (also if unaffordable to us middle class) is in strong demand and ESF know that. They are simply cashing in on this demand. If it was for me, as consequence for punishing the middle class, ESF should no longer be allowed to run any school at all. We better start looking out for a new authority/ company/ organization that can take over the schools from ESF.
What is Mr. Ng thinking? Does he really think the $$ going to subvention belongs to the government and thus should be only spent on HK type education? No the money comes from taxes paid by the parents of the students who go to ESF. And looking at it the parents get a raw deal. They pay amongst the highest taxes but only get a 17% break on education tuition. Now the government is saying they will take away the 17% subvention? I don’t see the reasoning behind that? Don’t we pay taxes that provide us services? Not quite sure what the HK government does with our taxes. I guess they are just too busy buying US government debt so that the US government can give US children an education with our tax money.
ESF should switch to teaching in local language (Cantonese) as well. Their graduates could then aspire to be one of the morons in the HK Government who can then send their kids to England for a proper education. Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim may have forgotten to stick that dome under the shoe polishing machine before he spoke.


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