The ESF old-building-refurbishment-funding saga continues:The English Schools Foundation is hoping for an increased annual subsidy of HK$400 million as talks with the government enter an advanced stage.
Financial support from the government has been frozen at HK$283 million since 2000.
Last year the government even suggested the subvention be stopped.
The apparent breakthrough follows years of lobbying by the ESF to keep the subvention, which has been questioned by the director of audit.
ESF chairman Carlson Tong Ka- shing told Sing Tao Daily, sister paper of The Standard, that he recently spoke to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim at a private function.
Tong said their discussion was positive and their views "very close." He hopes a consensus may be reached before the start of the next school year.
The new subvention may be in line with that enjoyed by direct subsidy schools.
"If the subvention had not been frozen, and we take the cost of living index and the current number of students into account, the subvention should be not less than HK$400 million," Tong said.
The ESF was founded in 1967 to provide a "modern liberal education" for expatriates. However it has since expanded to include all ethnic groups and now caters for thousands of local children.
Most of the students have parents who are permanent residents and taxpayers.
There is a shortage of ESF places. About 6,500 students are on the waiting lists of the five secondary and nine primary schools.
This year, about 2,400 applicants competed for about 1,000 Secondary One places.
Tong also said the ESF hopes to build more schools in the New Territories.
ESF chief executive Heather Du Quesnay said rents in Hong Kong are high and the group is reluctant to keep on increasing fees. Consequently, it hopes to build new schools in the New Territories.
Annual fees for primary schools currently stand at HK$66,100, and those for secondary schools between HK$98,000 and HK$102,000.
A month after introducing a Nomination Rights Scheme, the ESF is now considering launching a new debenture scheme to finance the replacement of aging buildings...
ESF close to subsidy deal - The Standard