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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

I’ll emigrate when there’s no more freedom of speech in Hong Kong, says ESF ace pupil

The 16-year-old is disillusioned with Hong Kong's political and social divide

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 September, 2013, 8:38am

After a stellar performance in the British and international secondary exams, Justin Cheng Yan-yiu, 16, should be looking forward to a good career and life in his home city.

But the English Schools Foundation pupil, who scored eight straight A*s in the General Certificate of Secondary Education and its international equivalent, says he is so disillusioned with Hong Kong's divided society that he might consider emigrating.

The Year 11 pupil at Sha Tin College was speaking as the foundation announced this year's results in the two examinations in which five pupils achieved A* in every subject they sat. Foundation pupils generally take a mixture of GCSE and International General Certificate of Secondary Education courses.

Justin said he saw the city's political situation as hopeless, but was against the civil-disobedience movement Occupy Central as it would cause only unrest and chaos. "It just won't work," said Justin, who supports universal suffrage. "It won't force the central government to back down as long as it has an iron grip on Hong Kong."

He said he saw "no civil solution" to Hong Kong's problems such as its divided society and wide wealth gap. "I won't suggest revolution either, because Hong Kong has no military forces," he said. "I think one possible way is through foreign diplomatic talks. Emigration is something I would consider when this place has no freedom of speech any more."

About 28 per cent of some 1,000 ESF pupils who took the exams scored A* grades, four times Britain's average of 7 per cent, while 94 per cent got A* to C grades, compared with Britain's 68 per cent.

Chris Durbin, the foundation's secondary school development adviser, said most pupils took nine to 10 subjects and he suggested taking at least eight. He added that if pupils did exceptionally well, universities may consider admitting them earlier.

The five top performers will all go on to take the International Baccalaureate diploma programme, which may lead them into their desired universities.

Justin said he wanted to study international relations in the United States and become a human rights worker at the UN.

Another star pupil, Narumi Wong, 16, said she wanted to be involved in science and help change the world. Top scorer Daniel Monteiro, 16, said he enjoyed learning but had had to sacrifice time with his friends.



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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
It's always interesting how many of the most "patriotic" are living in North America.
People should not walk away from the perceived problems, but learn how to change for better. Otherwise, scoring A's means nothing. I have been living in North America for 40 years, and I always feel Hong Kong is much better place whenever I am visiting.
By the way, freedom is not free and demands great responsibility to the public.
Charity starts at home.
SCMP: The title of the news only focuses on Justin's opinions and ignores the other top students. There is room for improvement in Journalism.
@Coffee Drinker:
Agreed. It's funny reading posts from people who support the Communist government, but who actually reside in foreign countries. The majority of real Hong Kongers are anti-CCP
The freedom of this infividual who got 8 A's in his exam and studies in the ESF does not represent the majority of Hongkongers. SCMP, how about other brilliant students from the local "Hong Kong" schools?
this student does have a point. fighting for democracy in a place with no freedom of speech is like fighting for freedom in a closed box. would fighting for democracy in a place where there is media censorship and the suppression of human rights be all worth it? what difference would there be if one's view is subdued by the government? thankfully, hong kong does still have its freedom of speech.....
Let this over pampered students go away. If they think freedom speech is allowed abroad then you are wrong. After Snowden case we know that freedom don't excist. I'm not pro/anti ccp but I don't agree the Occupy Central movement because they only made things worst.
ESF must be overjoyed with the 5 all A* from all the foundation schools. Compared with another Direct Subsidy Scheme school in Causeway Bay that scored 15 10-A* (with 2 12-A*) this year and the high school fee (given the subsidy) of ESF, we should really re-think the 'success'. story.
I also refer to "Hong Kong ESF students ace exams to outshine peers in global IB diploma" (9 Jul)
While the average score of 34.6 is above global average of 29.8, it is also below than 40.7 of St Paul's Co-educational College.
go compare the number of people doing the IB in ESF with the number who do the IB in the Direct Subsidy Scheme schools....
While I understand that everyone is entitled to their opinions but I'm somewhat disappointed in Justin's action. Running away from the problem (i.e emigration) rather than standing steadfast and dealing with the issues head-on is something I would expect our parents or grandparents generation would do. However, if groups like Scholarism, and other post 80's activist groups are any indicator in the mindset of today's generation then I still have faith for the future for this city. I think Justin should learn to take on responsibility no matter how difficult it may seem rather than just running away.
"By the way, freedom is not free and demands great responsibility"
Ah yes, North America ..........
1976 – May 20013 USA Executions 1,343
The Land of the Free, honor human rights
World Prison Populations USA Position : 1 Prison rates in the US are the world's highest, at 724 people per 100,000.
In Russia the rate is 581.
Bush Administration Convicted of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity
By comparison, a New Orleans resident has roughly a 1 in 1750 chance of being killed in a homicide over a twelve month period.
Despite the familiar media refrain that Chicago is the nation’s murder capital, the “windy city” does not even qualify as one of the nation’s top 25 most dangerous cities for homicide. Yes, in sheer numbers Chicago leads the nation’s cities in murders, but its per capita murder rate is lower than forty other cities with populations above 40,000 residents. In 2011, the last year where records have been tabulated to compare cities, according to FBI statistics, Chicago, with a per capita murder rate of 15.9/per 100,000 residents, ranked behind over three dozen other American cities



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