Govt to cut ESF subsidies...
- 12-19-2002, 08:51 AM #1
Govt to cut ESF subsidies...
I actually suspect that this is a mixture of SCMP sensationalism mixed in with bureucratic stupidity, both of which are common place these days.
The government is considering suspending its subsidies to the English Schools Foundation, a move which could result in fees rising by up to 40 per cent.
Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung yesterday confirmed the move was being considered in view of the budget deficit.
"I think the ESF is doing a grand job. They are giving a very good education to many of our young people in Hong Kong and we would certainly like to keep ESF and like to keep the subvention [subsidies]. But we have also got to balance that with the government expenditure and say . . . if we don't have the money this is an area where we would consider reducing the subvention or even cutting [ending] the subvention."
Not like its a lot of money!
The foundation has received about $300 million from the government this academic year. The subsidies received by ESF students have been equivalent to those for all students in the aided sector, but frozen at 1999 levels.
- 12-19-2002, 11:39 AM #2
This is the response I sent to the SCMP.
I read today's announcement that the government is likely to cut ESF subsidies with two emotions. As someone who considers Hong Kong his home I am disappointed. As someone who has to balance his check book every month, I read the announcement with amusement.
Cutting the subsidies (HK$300 million) in an attempt to help reduce the huge deficit that the government has built up over the last few years, is the equivalent of killing your child's pet gold fish, while the 3000 pound white elephant continues to live in your backyard, in an attempt to reduce your monthly pet-food bill.
As someone who now considers Hong Kong his residence and has long term plans to continue staying in and investing in Hong Kong, I am disappointed that the government has started to pick on certain groups of people to highlight its financial woes. Over the last few months, the government has picked on foreign domestic helpers for a new tax and now is attempting to pick on the largely expatriate middle class, who are not educated well enough in Cantonese or Phutongua to be comfortable enough to educate their children in these languages.
Would Mr. Li, care to clarify the governments mother-tongue method of instruction policy to parents whose primary language of communication is English? Would the folks at InvestHK care to clarify how they would continue positioning Hong Kong as an international entry point into China, when Hong Kong cannot afford to subsidise basic education in English?
Statements like the ones made by Mr. Li, while populist in nature, do not reflect well on Hong Kong as an hub which wants to attract regional and international talent and investment. They do not reflect well on the government which is going overboard to promote English in the workplace. What they do reflect well on, is the haphazard way in which the government officials communicate their views and opinions, without taking into view their long term international impact.
- 12-14-2004, 11:01 PM #3Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2004
- Hong Kong
Reducing Subsidies for ESF
I personally voted this time for this policy especially after learning how messy the Board of the ESF has been running throughout these years. I am a local HK people, brought up here and receiving my tertiary education (HKU) here. I love my city which is small though.
Now, I am a mother of 2, I don't see any point of subsidizing ESF as the only way of HK Govt to support English development. And the reduction is no way a penalty to those who are not capable in mastering Chinese languages.
Whilst I have been a heavy tax payer here, I am now sending my 2 little ones to private local kidergartens without any subsidies from our Govt. I also love to send both of them to international schools like GSIC, HKIS or CIS. Due to financial constraints, I didn't and turned to ESF which I think the school fee is more affordable to me. The result was disaapointing. My elder one has been rejected by EFS without even having an interview. I started to question why my children are being deprived from learning native English even though their parents are heavy tax payers here, whilst we are subsidizing someone who are mostly foreigners here.
To me, I think we should have EQUAL opportunities but not on the LOWEST priority to those schools esp if they are receiving $$ from HK people.
If you think that HK Govt is penalising a small group of foreign people, then I have more grounds to complain on my Govt being neglecting her original citizens - for not giving their next generation a chance to have upbringing in a pure English environment.
We ourselves either have to pay for expensive school fees for the top tier international schools here; or we have to pay even more to send our sweeties aboard during their young ages.
Don't you think this is also FAIR to our Hongkongese?
- 12-14-2004, 11:22 PM #4
I'm really not sure what your complaints are about?
1) Your kid could not get into ESF?
2) You don't want foreigners to be subsidised?
3) You don't want people capable of learning cantonese to remain in Hong Kong and educate their kids here?
>> I started to question why my children are being deprived from learning native English even though their parents are heavy tax payers here
Govt policy to encourage mother tongue education. In all their wisdom, most of the Hong Kong parents are not complaining enough to Uncle Tung. Have you tried to ask the education department why this is the case?
>> whilst we are subsidizing someone who are mostly foreigners here.
Everyone is being subsidised. Including locals. To be fair, foreigners are usually in higher tax brackets, receive fewer subsidies (no housing subsidies for example). My original point was ... equal subsidies for both english and cantonese educational systems.
I'm assuming somewhere in your message, you forgot Uncle Tung (our fearless leader!) and his call for making this place a world city. :)
- 12-15-2004, 12:35 AM #5Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2002
- Hong Kong
Many opponents of the possible cut to the ESF subsidy portray the move to be racially motivated. I think that what we really need to look at is class rather than race.
If I remember correctly, 70 percent of the students are locals. In addition, in order to be accepted into an ESF school, they must display excellent proficiency in English. I think that on this basis, we can assume that the majority of this 70 percent belong to the middle or upper classes.
I do not feel that it is fair to subsidize the middle class, when much still needs to be done to help the lower classes. As we all have all heard on the local news, the English and even Putonghua standards of teachers in local schools are deplorable.
- 12-15-2004, 11:39 AM #6
I don't want to get too deep into this, because you'll think it's the locals against expats issue. But sorry I just have to butt in when it comes to tax money.
HK is trying hard to establish herself as a world's city and is convincing the expats that she's the best place in Asia to invest and reside. She said she offered the best English schools in the region at an affordable price. These expats AND their families come over, live in one of the world's most expensive cities, pay taxes (which according to the Inland Revenue, the total amount of income taxes paid by non-Hong Kong citizens is HIGHER than that of the locals!), and now HK is telling them that oh well... your kids' education expense will be 40% more than we told you. It's just upsetting, isn't it?
I fully agree with Shri that ALL schools should be equally subsidized, regardless of the language of instruction. Education is education. Students are students.
Whilst I have been a heavy tax payer here, I am now sending my 2 little ones to private local kidergartens without any subsidies from our Govt. My elder one has been rejected by EFS without even having an interview. I started to question why my children are being deprived from learning native English even though their parents are heavy tax payers here, whilst we are subsidizing someone who are mostly foreigners here.
- 01-03-2005, 09:30 AM #7Registered User
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
- Hong Kong
Misconceptions about ESF
1) ESF caters essentially for Expats - wrong! Over 70% are ethnic Chinese, over 80% ethnic Asian, over 80% are permanent ID holders, probably all are higher bracket tax payers in a city where 90% of tax is paid by 10% of the populous.
2) Why should the "affluent" middle class be subsidised - because they are paying both for those who don't pay tax and for there own children - perhaps the 10% who pay the most tax should refuse to pay for education through their tax, who would suffer then - those that don't pay anything at the moment - the non-taxpayers!
3) The ESF (which are government schools) has become one of the systems of choice as Hong Kong residents attempt to escape the mainstream government system that is increasingly seen as non-secular, regimented, overcrowded (in the "better" schools) and unable in many cases to equip many of the children to live in an increasingly global society.
4) The current cost to the Hong Kong government of subsidising what the EMB has called "a high quality education", within the ESF is less than that paid to similar mainstream government schools. That money is used to help educate Hong Kong children who are entitled to 9 years of free education, to educate them to a standard that will allow them either go on to local or international university education. Either way it benefits Hong Kong if they see themselves as Hong Kong people, able and willing to return and contribute to the community with their skills whether acquired here or overseas.
Lastly, great care should be taken in labelling anyone an "Expat" since the population of Hong Kong has roughly doubled in the last 30 years. Hong Kong is and has always been a city of immigrants, I am a permanent resident tax paying westerner employed here, as I have always been, on local terms - no flights to the UK, no big package - contrast that with the native Cantonese speaking US educated employee on a big package with a major US company - who is the expat? Me because of the colour of my skin? That is a very simplistic and dangerous argument! Is Tung Chee-wah an expat, he comes from Shanghai?
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