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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 chief spells out stance on subject of ESF

In a letter to the Post, Eddie Ng spells out the government's view on foundation's subsidy

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 4:41am

Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim claims he had no intention of forcing the English Schools Foundation to adopt a local curriculum like the Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE).

However, Ng suggested at a Legco hearing late last month that the ESF's recurrent funding, or subvention, should be cut because it offered students only an international curriculum.

In a letter to the South China Morning Post today Ng says that the ESF has no intention of changing its curriculum and that he had not asked it to do so.

In a Legco meeting on October 31, Ng, in response to a query from lawmakers, said the subsidy model for ESF must change as it lacked a local curriculum.

He said at the time: "We will stick with the principle that if it doesn't provide a local curriculum, such as the [HKDSE], the subvention model will change."

Ng's remarks had raised concerns among parents and teachers that the ESF's nature would fundamentally change if it modified its curriculum.

His press secretary also said last Friday that Ng was not planning to push a new curriculum for ESF schools. But in the letter, Ng compared ESF to the direct subsidy schools, many of which offer local and non-local courses.

"Some suggest providing funding to the ESF that is comparable to those received by schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme," he said. "ESF schools are different from DSS schools, which primarily offer a local curriculum and have to comply with a more stringent monitoring mechanism."

Ng insists that in terms of key issues, such as admissions and fees, ESF schools are "no different from other international schools" and that policy regarding the ESF subvention will take this into account.

The subvention "will be phased out in an orderly and gradual fashion in order not to prejudice the interests of the existing students admitted to ESF schools before any new subvention arrangement takes effect. The Education Bureau is open to any new and unique role that the ESF can perform in the context of the entire school system and in complementing the government's policy. As such, if there is any subvention to the ESF, it would all be based on the new and unique role of the ESF, if any," Ng writes.


More on this story

Why ESF subsidy being phased out
19 Nov 2012 - 12:00am

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This article is now closed to comments

Sticks Evans
Mr. Ng. Nice to see you are in line with the racist attitudes against anything not local Cantonese thinking. This is the same behavior the Chief Executive has warned Hong Konger's not to engage in regarding Mainlanders. Even though 70% of the students have Chinese blood.
In New York where you can find 70 nationalities within a few walking blocks you would be ridden out of town on a rail faster than you can say Xi Jiping.
When David Dinkens a one term mayor of New York engaged in some policies that even appeared to be one sided like this one 200 major corporations moved out of New York within months and plunged the city into a depression. Companies like UPS bailed for Atlanta citing that their corporate officers could not see living in a city that did not offer an environment that was friendly to Non-New Yorkers. It was devastating to the city. Locals here do not realize the part foreign talent plays in the financial sector and some other areas. Shanghai is taking note offering a green city, Social Security for foreigners and other perks Hong Kong does not even approach.
In New York, the private schools receive a pass from teaching the state curriculum and receive many tax advantages and assistance from federal, state and city funding.
You are a dunce.
If your ideas fly with the government here you will have helped bring Hong Kong down yet another notch in education, democracy and attractiveness to the world community as a destination for talent and business.
As for comparing ESF schools against local DSS schools that offer local and non-local (read IB) curriculum, it is funny how one particular famed school, that has been previously reported as the best secondary school in Hong Kong, criticized the local curriculum and heaped praise on the IB internally.
Pity the teachers there that had to get that treatment just because they were teaching in the local curriculum part of the school. If the local universities complaining about the proficiency levels of their new students in both English and Chinese is not a wake up call, I don't know what is. Too bad the local teachers were fed that sort of system when they were learning to become teachers. Having to retrain them all is going to something that is too much for the EDB to swallow so the most face saving action is to mark ESF as running "International Schools" and therefore leaves everyone on the same page. Local/public schools are just poorer quality just like everywhere else including the United States. Except that that won't be true of certain European countries.
Please continue to watch with dismay the lack of vision and backbone of the EDB.
English language reform? No, that is not possible. For one thing, ESF schools do not specifically teach grammar for English and for another thing, how do you propose local schools get teachers that can achieve the level of command of English that older ESF teachers have and the younger ones 'just know'.
The EDB apparently discourages the teaching of English grammar in English lessons and points to native-English speaking countries for justification but apparently fails to see that the removal of grammar from English language classes has resulted in people entering university that cannot even construct a sentence properly never mind a paragraph. Yes, they can speak it more or less properly but they sure cannot write properly. Even the vaunted SCMP regularly has grammar errors in its articles. English reform has to come from the EDB but they has their eyes pasted together and promotes a failure policy that even Britain, the originator, no longer follows. (Britain reintroduced grammar in 1999)
The ESF is not welcome because its culture and teaching style shows up the local system as a failure in general and therefore the EDB. When teachers just tell pupils to copy the example off the blackboard/whiteboard, give a tonne of homework and then work themselves to death correcting said homework (inaccurately too), rote-learning is a failed learning system that makes all suffer, including the pupils and their parents. ESF having happy pupils and parents? Not allowed.
Wow, surprised to see in today's poll that 34% are still pro "as is" subsidies for ESF (to continue). I would have expected many more to oppose to ESF, having come up to school fees that are comparable to those of "regular" international schools; Mr. Ng is (very unfortunately) right in his observation. So if with subvention, ESF are already on such levels (= they themselves turned away from their original "job" of providing affordable English medium education), how can we expect the government/ HKG taxpayer to provide any further help? I myself am very effected with 2 children at ESF schools and I wish the facts were different... Well, 66% against continuing "as is".... , that is a clear majority.
I would be interested to see answers to a different poll: Does HK need subvention for affordable English medium education in a new form and assuming, a new organization would run such schools?
There is one way in which the ESF differs from other international schools and that is student make up. The ESF requires 70% of the students to have a least one parent who is PR. These students will contribute greatly to HK in the future. If the subsidy is scrapped completely then the ESF would not be under any obligation to keep the PR requirement in their schools admissions policy. This means the ESF may return to the expat only haven it once was. The government should be smarter and negotiate a 100% PR student make up and continue the subsidy compareable to DSS schools. The ESF's new and unique role could be to help set up DSS schools with greater flexibility based on local curriculum and IB. These school could be a model for English language reform for local schools.


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