• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 12:04pm
NewsHong Kong

English Schools Foundation parents call on Hong Kong chief executive to probe fee rises

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 March, 2014, 2:33pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 March, 2014, 9:04am


  • Yes: 89%
  • No: 11%
29 Mar 2014
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 616

English Schools Foundation parents urged Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to look personally into an average 5 per cent fee rise announced yesterday.

The increase is the first important decision by the foundation since Belinda Greer took over as chief executive from Heather Du Quesnay in September. Greer said the increase was to cope with inflation, a 3.5 per cent pay rise for teachers and building costs.

But parent Hans Ladegaard said annual fee rises by the ESF - the largest provider of English-medium education in Hong Kong - had frozen out lower middle-class families.

"There're only elite schools left in Hong Kong and nowhere for lower middle-class kids to go."

Angie Lam, a member of an ESF parents' concern group, said the rise was unacceptable and the foundation should try to cut costs instead of "squeezing parents to pay more every year".

Lam, who has two children at ESF schools, accused Leung of failing to keep a promise that he would monitor the foundation closely and urged him to take a personal look at the increase.

The fee for primary classes in the coming school year will be HK$74,100, up about 5.9 per cent. For secondary years 7 to 11 it will be HK$105,700, up 4.2 per cent. The year 12 to 13 charge of HK$111,100 is a 4.5 per cent rise.

The Education Bureau said last year its annual subsidy of HK$283 million to the ESF would be phased out over 13 years from 2016.

Greer said the real challenge was how to prepare for the loss of the subsidy so fees remained lower than most international schools while improving standards. "We don't want to price people out," she said. "We want to continue to serve our families that we've been serving in the last 50 years."

The ESF also announced an increase of about 6.6 per cent for 2014-15 tuition fees at Discovery College on Lantau.

Watch: New chief vows English Schools Foundation will stay affordable



For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

What can CY Leung personally do after personally looking into the proposed fee raise? I don’t know what the parent is expecting from CY Leung? After losing its government subsidy, ESF is much a private school entity. The raise in fee is expected to make up the shortfall.
The larger scheme of thing which wouldn’t help those parents of ESF now but for the public at large as soon as possible is to increase education budget to improve teaching quality in all public and government subsidized schools. Bring all schools to the ESF standard or better. English languish ability is not the only objective but education is. Create alternative for parents in Hong Kong.
Parent Hans Ladegaard has no idea about the actual income distribution in Hong Kong. He appears to think that ESF is still affordable for 'upper middle class' and that it is just 'lower middle class' families that are 'frozen out.'

He is wrong. If we were to generously classify the bottom 20% of households (by monthly household income) as 'lower class' and the top 20% as 'upper class,' we would be left with the middle 60% of households as 'middle' class. A fair definition, no?

The monthly household income distribution of this 60% middle class ranges from about 10k to as high as 45k.

However, this is net of 8~12% effective taxation, and of course there is housing, on which a household in this bracket easily spends between 30~40% of monthly income. So even the upper pa (40~45k a mont) of our 60% 'middle class' bracket is left with at most 25~30k in disposable income.

With ESF primary schools now topping HKD 7,000 per month in fees, and their secondary schools charging well over 10k per month, I don't really see how it is feasible for even an 'upper middle class' family to send one child, let alone two children to ESF. Especially since these monthly fees are just the beginning. There is also the debenture business, the extra-curricular fees, the uniforms and so on.

Parent Hans Ladegaard should realise that the ESF, like other international schools, has since long become an elite, upper-class affair, only affordable for the top 20% of incomes at best.
The basic objective of establishing the English Schools Foundation during the British Raj in Hong Kong was to provide an education compatible with the British pattern! There is no reason why after the handover the Hong Kong SAR government should continue subsidising schools run by the ESF. Instead, the British government should have volunteered to bear that expenditure and should do so now if it is keen to maintain a link with the territory in the years to come! That apart, the ESF should find ways and means of drastically cutting costs as a cursory evaluation of the ESF expenditure table will reveal there is ample room to avoid wasteful spending in many areas without affecting the quality of teaching which could without doubt improve further!
The call for more subsidy does not make sense to me. A 5% increment is reasonable given the inflation in Hong Kong and ESF's hugh popularity among parents simply shows demand far exceeding the supply. For those who sent the children to ESF, please don't complain and if you cannot afford, simply let others to enter the school. I don't think HK parents are complaining the ever increasing tuition fee in US or UK. What CY Leung really need to do with HK education is to bring local schools into ESF level, at least in primary school which is so important to establish a solid foundation for students for further study. Clearly the hugh annual education budget in HK is simply to keep "redundant" teachers and a group of useless education bureaucrats in a well paid jobs. A responsible government should get rid of those unproductive manpower and reallocate resources to support high quality teaching at well run school. A voucher scheme should be introduced to give the students the choice.
What a joke. ESF level? What kind of level is it? The reason why ESF is so popular in Hong Kong is only because of its medium of teaching and the fact that a local kid will have more opportunities of meeting expatriate children. There is nothing special about its "level".
Exactly. The money that is being phased out of the ESF subsidy should be reinvested directly into other schools. And more. Our government is rolling in the money but somehow manages to spend it all on bridges and railroads instead of fulfilling a bleedingly obvious demand for quality education from the population.
75K, 105K and 110K is bludgeoning the 'middle class'? Don't make me laugh. Your 75K pa would not even pay for half a year in a good independent school in UK.
If your kid is not good enough for a local Anglo-Chinese school, and you want an easy life with no homework etc, then you pay for it. QED
Also , those teachers are still being paid expatriate wages with colonial style fringe benefits. What kind of fees can you expect if your ESF continues like an outdated monolith unable to change or reform because everyone who is part of the decision-making cannot see themselves making a sacrifice.
Bon Chance mon amie.
Hi... thanks. I did actually google it first but didn't see the total number.
No need to be a d!(k.
Good - if people come here and cant hold down high enough added value jobs to stand on their own two feet they can always go back from whence they came. Like everybody else has had to do in Hong Kong's history
blah blah blah. new ceo, same nonsense. people whose kids are in already complain every year. people whose kids cant get in, dont want the govt to subsidize it.
for starters, why does the esf keep hiring expats to be ceo. if u want to save costs, try hiring a local. at least u dont need to pay for her rent and her 2 first class tickets home to uk for her and her spouse and kids..
Hiring a local guy probably will help esf deal better with the local education bureau. belinda and heather cant deal with the local govt bec they dont really travel in the same circles.
also, having a white expat ceo exacerbates the colonial image.
Basically, the quality of teaching in esf is far superior than ANY local govt school. hence the long waiting list. Everyone wants their kids to study there. Why? bec when they see the grads from the local system, they worry, bec the local grads cant string a simple sentence in english or putonghua. Just try to order in english at your nearest KFC or mcdonalds to a local 18-20 year old behind the counter. you will get a blank stare. It will take the hk govt at least one generation to fix the local system.
everyone complains, but belinda , let me give u some suggestions.
1. tell the govt to scrap the subsidy.
2. double the fees.
3. those who cant afford it will drop out.
4. no more complaints
5. make it a truly private school
then everyone can move on.
this is HK, money talks, **** walks.



SCMP.com Account