Friday 9 September 2011

English and English Schools Foundation in Hong Kong Part 2

Another excellent letter in the SCMP (see below) that explains the presence of ESF in Hong Kong, and challenges 'xenophobe' Cynthia Sze to explain her stance.

Related Post
English and English Schools Foundation in Hong Kong (see comments also)

ESF schools contribute to international character of city

Sep 05, 2011

Contrary to Cynthia Sze's view ("Hong Kong should not pay ESF to maintain its luxurious schools", August 30), I advocate an increase in government subvention to the English Schools Foundation in order to ensure that there are enough affordable places for local and expatriate children.

The ESF offers an international education at fees lower than the norm for international schools because of the government subvention, without which fewer kids could afford to attend these schools and the ESF would be a smaller organisation.

As the parent of a child who attended ESF schools for 11 years, I appreciate the quality of its education and how it contributes to the internationalisation of Hong Kong.

The presence of expatriate children (whom Ms Sze incorrectly described as "non-residents") gives these schools an international flavour and should be welcomed rather than discouraged.

Their parents are Hong Kong taxpayers too and Ms Sze should not be too upset that they are enjoying the "privilege" of the subsidy.

If they were to attend local schools, which they are entitled to just like the minorities that Ms Sze has so much sympathy for, the subsidy per child would be higher.

The children at ESF schools have a native command of English. Not many children in even the best local English schools can boast the same.

The ESF's contribution to Hong Kong should be extolled rather than bulldozed.

Instead of curtailing its services, ESF should be encouraged to expand its reach. Neither is the subvention outdated, nor the "privilege" anachronistic as alleged by Ms Sze. It is essential to ensure that this time-honoured alternative education is accessible to more local and expatriate children.

Ms Sze's letter smacks of sour grapes and strikes me as inward-looking and narrow-minded.

I have disclosed my association with the ESF and would like to know whether Ms Sze has an axe to grind with it since she takes so much exception to the alleged policy of Cantonese (only?) speaking kids getting a lower priority for admission.

Jonathan Leung, North Point


  1. Better English skills (and legacy British institutions, like proper laws and the ICAC) are one of the current advantages Hongkers has over places like Shanghai. If they want to stay ahead of the competition, an "international city" which discourages the learning of languages is not exactly helping itself.

  2. published today ……

    ESF must accept level playing field

    Letters in support of the English Schools Foundation's (ESF) subvention are written characteristically without regard to relevant facts and their moral significance.

    Jonathan Leung ("ESF schools contribute to international character of city", September 5) omits the fact that 35 per cent of the ESF's subsided places are occupied by selective non-residents who are not entitled to public subsidies.

    Despite his predilection for "international" character, he seems unaware that international norms censure linguistic discrimination such as that perpetrated by the ESF, and which is outlawed in all native English-speaking countries.

    Richard Di Bona's complaint about the government not providing adequate educational opportunities in English, an official language, shows his disregard for Hong Kong's internationally acclaimed universal education ("ESF fills role government should play", September 2). English is the medium of instruction of many local schools. Local secondary graduates readily gain admission to native English-speaking universities overseas and satisfy their language requirements.

    Local schools prepare students for public examinations which are markedly more stringent than the overseas exams taken by ESF students. That's why ESF students don't take local exams whereas local students readily take overseas exams.

    The ESF's popularity is due largely to its extraordinary staff benefits and unusually student-friendly programme. Its hyped "international" appeal is warped and vacuous. Social justice requires that the ESF, a subsidised institution, must align its staff benefits and admission practice fairly with social norms.

    Mr Di Bona should realise that the English which the Basic Law provides as an official language is local English and not native English, just like Cantonese, which is local Chinese, is the de facto official Chinese language of Hong Kong. If local English fails to become socially functional like Singlish in Singapore, the use of English as an ancillary official language will decline naturally and should discontinue in 2047.

    Hong Kong will always be Cantonese-speaking because the Chinese are not hegemonic like the English who have obliterated the Celtic and the Romance languages in Britain.

    Promotion of native English will render Hong Kong an accomplice in the hegemony of the English language. We need a unified language policy for minorities of various mother tongues.

    The objective of public education is to promote social coherence which can't be achieved if we continue the divisive policy of the bygone colonial administration and segregate our students into local English schools, native English schools, schools for non- native English-speaking minorities, and so forth.

    Cynthia Sze, Quarry Bay

  3. Hong Kong's strength is its uniqueness compared to the Chinese cities on the mainland. However, with all this fuss stirred up by nationalists, it appears they want Hong Kong to become like Shanghai way quicker than 2047 (i.e. before the 50-year non-interference policy expires).

  4. Yep, yay for feral nationalism!

    Hongkers should surely want to be as nice a place as cities on the mainland - despite the many millions on the mainland who would very much like to move to Hongkers. Freedom, proper laws and very low corruption are totally overrated! Or, at least they are to the wealthy.

  5. One of the problems of China cities, I think, is the huge amount of people they attract from the rural communities. Since there is a huge gap in terms of wealth, education, etiquette and even culture, the influx of peoples into the cities means that the cities are not really that nice. The people are an important part of what makes cities nice, and unfortunately in my experience mainland cities are not as "nice" as Hong Kong.

    However, if many more millions of mainland Chinese are allowed to make Hong Kong their home, then Hong Kong will surely become just like any other city in China.

  6. Yes, it's a product of very rapid and uneven industrialisation. The infrastructure in cities is woefully inadequate, which doesn't help. I don't think the CCP wants to mess up Hongkers, so I doubt that they will allow mass migration from the mainland unless they think Hongkers is going to try and declare independence.

    I meant that Hongkers is a (relatively!) desirable place to live, despite all those troublesome notions like freedom and rule of law that some people keep moaning about.

  7. Yep, living in Hongkers is good. However, it would be different for those living in the poorest 10% of the population. They earn less than 1% of Hong Kong's entire median household income, compared with about 41% earned by Hong Kong's top 10%.

  8. True, the poorest seem to get shafted, as they do in most places. And the government and the rich seem very unconcerned. The low wages are good for shoppers but not for those on them... with housing so expensive, not good.

  9. English
    Schools Ireland
    -Ireland can be charmingly delightful. Cork, Belfast, Galway and Dublin have unique cultural flavours and have some of the best English schools in Ireland.

  10. Venom bitch is in the press again today. Actually the person to blame is Scottish John Lee the editor of the Letters page who continues to allow this utterly racist crap from Sze and her alter ego Pierce Lam. Both of them should go and live in North Korea and write to the press there or just over the border in Shenzhen and see what progress they make from inside a jail cell.
    There is a Cynthia Sze who works at Royal and SunAlliance in Quarry Bay probably Sze Lai Kuen since 2000 at
    32F Dorset House Taikoo Place 979 King's Road Quarry Bay Hong Kong