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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

ESF hankers for public funding, despite Eddie Ng's comments

Foundation argues its English curriculum is valuable to all Hong Kong citizens; DSS schools teaching IB could help fight for subvention

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 November, 2012, 4:10am

The English Schools Foundation is banking on its strengths to secure continued public funding, despite the government's plan to phase out its HK$283 million annual subsidy.

Education chief Eddie Ng Hak-kim has said it is not government policy to provide subsidies to schools that offer a non-local curriculum, as the ESF does.

He also ruled out treating the foundation like direct-subsidy schools (DSS), as they are required to teach a local curriculum. But ESF chief executive Heather Du Quesnay said yesterday that the ESF schools, with their 13,000 students, were a part of Hong Kong.

"We were established by ordinance in 1967 to offer an education in the medium of English to students who can benefit from it. That is ... not just for expatriates but for any child in Hong Kong who could speak English and wanted an English education. So our history is all about serving local people."

But she acknowledged that it would be "challenging" to get anywhere near the subvention level for DSS schools, which receive government money but operate mostly like private schools.

Both sides are now working to establish a funding level based on the ESF's specific areas of service, including special needs education, teaching of Chinese to non-Chinese speakers, continuing professional development for teachers, students' welfare - including counselling - learning technology, mother tongue support for students whose native language is not English, and applied learning.

"We will see what total amount of money that would generate," she said.

She now expects a decision to be made before the end of this academic year, contrary to expectations that a deal might be struck by the end of this year.

One factor that could influence the debate is that some DSS schools may not be required to teach the "local curriculum" - contrary to Ng's assertion.

There is now at least one exception to the rule.

Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong - a sixth-form college in Wu Kai Sha offering the International Baccalaureate - was given special permission to remain in the DSS scheme in the 2000s, after a government working group affirmed the value of its culturally diversified school environment. Currently, about 40 per cent of its students are local residents.

Other DSS schools face rising demand from students for non-local curriculums, such as the IB, Cheung Siu-ming, principal of Creative Secondary School, said.

"What is the rationale of a local curriculum?" he asked. "Any curriculum that helps students get into local universities should be good enough. The IB curriculum suits a world-class international city like Hong Kong."

He urged the government to study overseas cases, such as in Australia, where state schools can offer non-national curriculums.

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pamsayang1
Of course ESF don't need the money. They comfortably introduced a 500 k fast track entry for the rich (irrespective of the race of course, I dislike the racial aspect in this discussion). Our problem is that existing kids (in ESF schools) do need it and future middle class parents do need the subsidy. And instead of protesting, we should start a more appropriate discussion in HKG about "affordable English medium education", not "ESF subsidies". ESF don't need the money they have proven misuse and poor management over years. Hong Kong needs the money. And obviously HKG needs a new organization running affordable English medium schools.
florenceb
As a parent of 2 ESF students, I am surprised that nobody from the PTA or parent's representative have initiated a sitting in front of the government buildings. We have been asked in the past to submit letters to be forwarded to the Government or Legco but apparently it did little to our cause. Maybe this would be the way for them to listen to us.
pangcheong
florenceb, i will join you but seems PTA has done nothing so far!
Sticks Evans
Ng should be fired. He is bad for Hong Kong and children's welfare in general.
pangcheong
Agree, along with his other colleague & boss: Paul Chan Mo Po, CY Leung too!

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