A group of English Schools Foundation parent activists have stepped up their campaign to defend the organisation's government subvention, following Thursday night's key foundation meeting to approve a new draft ordinance. Parents for ESF said the ESF was a Hong Kong institution serving its people, contributing significantly to the SAR's education and helping to maintain its status as an international city. '[We] feel that following a reform of ESF management practices and now its governance . . . parents will be well placed to go back to government to seek clarification of the ESF's future funding,' the group said in a statement. 'We plead with the government to acknowledge the reforms that ESF has put in place and to continue its subvention, which will benefit the next generation of Hong Kong children.' The new draft ordinance, which was accepted by a vote of 69 to 27, will now be proposed as a private member's bill in the Legislative Council. If passed, it will remove the ESF's governing 133-member foundation and replace it with a 26-member board. The board would contain representatives of parents, teachers and principals, as well as a large number of independents. Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung has told the ESF it needed to bring about management reform before there could be discussion on the subvention issue. 'I'm very pleased that the draft has been passed,' said Alex Chiu Chi-suen, a Sha Tin Junior School parent and a member of the group. 'Reform was a major component in the fight to maintain the subvention.' Audrey Wong Zau Aiwei, chairwoman of Kowloon Junior School PTA, said: 'We think this will strengthen our case for keeping the subvention.' In its press release, Parents for ESF said government subventions for ESF primary students had fallen from $23,505 per child in 1999 to $17,444 in 2005, and from $32,205 to $26,134 for secondary pupils. Government funding for aided schools over the same period increased from $20,197 per student to $25,170 in primary, and $31,780 to $33,690 in secondary. Speaking after Thursday's meeting, ESF chairwoman Felice Lieh Mak said governance reform had been a stipulated precursor to negotiations on the subvention, so the foundation should be in a position to open talks once the ordinance had been passed by Legco. 'I wouldn't like to answer for the government,' Professor Lieh Mak said. 'But we certainly have delivered all that was asked of us.' A spokeswoman for the Education and Manpower Bureau said: 'We support improvements in ESF governance and acknowledge this move is essential to follow up the Public Accounts Committee's recommendations.' No decision had been made regarding negotiations on the subvention, she added.