Audit Commission report on ESF highlights definition of international schools as those that offer non-local curricula The government should review its funding policy for the international sector because the International Baccalaureate is blurring traditional distinctions between school types, a legislator has said. Cheung Man-kwong, who represents the education sector, was speaking after the laying of the foundation stone for a new Direct Subsidy Scheme school at Ma On Shan. He said the Hong Kong Baptist University's Wong Kam Fai Secondary and Primary School to be opened in 2006 illustrated the need for the review. 'I support a government review of the policy,' he said. 'It is now out of date.' The Audit Commission's report on the English Schools Foundation revealed that since 1995 the government has defined international schools as those that offer non-local curricula. Since 2000, it has wanted to bring the ESF in line with this policy, because it does not differ from other international schools in teaching an overseas curriculum and that there should be a level playing field between them. 'This issue should be considered as an example for the ESF to fight for its rights for subvention,' said Mr Cheung. 'The government should subsidise DSS and ESF schools according to the same unit cost per student. If Professor Ng Ching-fai [president of Baptist University] can have such a principle, the ESF should have the same.' Christine Houston, a parent of children at the ESF's Island School, said: 'The government should hold off any change to ESF funding until it has done a thorough review of the entire education funding policy, given that they are now opening DSS schools teaching the IB, which the ESF does,' she said. Earlier this month Island School became the fourth ESF secondary school to decide to drop A-levels in favour of the IB. 'This would be like tearing down Hunghom flats and building something else which will cost the government more,' she said. DSS secondary schools receive $33,940 per student, compared with $25,000 for those in ESF schools, the audit report said. The Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, who officiated at the ceremony, denied there was any inconsistency in policy, as the Ma On Shan school would offer the IB alongside the local curriculum. 'Local schools offer students the option of taking HKCEE and A-levels,' Mrs Law said. 'There are only two DSS schools considering teaching the IB.' The other is Logos Academy, in Tseung Kwan O. A spokeswoman for Baptist University confirmed the school, which will teach in English and Putonghua, intended to use the international curriculum. 'The school may fully or partly implement the IB curriculum. The decision will be up to the school's principal, who will be appointed in less than two months' time,' she said. During the summer the university said the school would offer the IB from primary through to diploma level.