SCMP Saturday, January 6, 2001

Re-examine ESF funding

The salary packages offered to ESF teachers are extraordinary and shocking, not simply because of the amounts involved, but because the major part is a contribution made by the Government.
This reveals that after several years of transition there is still baggage left from colonial rule. Other international school students receive no ongoing financial support from the Government, despite educating Hong Kong children - whose parents pay the same tax rate as everyone else.
An uneven playing field has long been in place, and the ESF has the best of both worlds, getting government funding like local schools and charging high fees to parents as a private international school is forced to do.
What this contradiction shows is that the ESF has carried the bulk of the privileges granted by the British colonialists to their citizens into Hong Kong's new era, and the current Government and the responsible departments have done nothing to even modify it.
Hong Kong is moving towards being a truly international metropolis. However, in the case of ESF funding, old habits do die hard, and people fail to see the changes that transition calls for.
It is time for the Government to re-examine its position and cut loose the unfair funding for a single institution.
Sha Tin