Thanks to James for pointing out that Pierce Lam is still at it.
The English Schools Foundation's intended change of its admission system is procedural and not substantive. ("ESF to end admission priority for non-Chinese speakers", February 5).
Its current admission system is designed to favour "children who do not speak Cantonese and/or read and write Chinese characters". However, in practice, it has failed the policy objective of giving priority to non-Chinese-speakers. In the words of ESF chief executive Heather Du Quesnay: "It's pretty difficult to test if the child cannot speak Cantonese. We have never been able to do it. That's one of the reasons the system didn't work very well."
In order to better achieve the foundation's objective of running its schools primarily for non-Chinese-speakers, the ESF will test the children's English proficiency in stringent interviews and verify "the parents' commitment to an ESF-style English-medium education through a parental statement and interview".
Instead of bracketing Chinese-speaking applicants as auxiliary candidates to fill places not taken by non-Chinese students, ESF aims to ensure segregation more effectively by adopting a personalised approach based on subjective appraisal of applicants and their parents. It is Ms Du Quesnay's belief that the new admission process would not reduce the number of non-Chinese students at ESF schools. In fact, it may even reduce ESF schools' Chinese enrolment.
In education, diversity means an equal opportunity to take part in different education experiences. It differs from segregation, which restricts students' education experiences according to their socio-racial backgrounds. The ESF's intended change is not meant to rectify its divisive education policy, but to strengthen its function as a bastion of colonialism that promotes segregation and perpetrates unwarranted privileges for non-Chinese and non-residents based on perverse discrimination.
The HKSAR government must withdraw from the colonial practice of offering two segregated systems of subsidised English-medium education - one for Chinese and the other for non-Chinese. For sustainable long-term development, we must respect our local schools and demand that expatriates who wish to partake in our city's opportunities respect the system where our own children receive their education.
In Japan, if expatriates want public education, they have to send their children to local schools. It's time expatriates in Hong Kong learned to respect our local schools which, both in language standards and in the various academic measures, are generally considered superior to schools in Japan and in most of our expatriates' home countries.
Pierce Lam, Central
I refer to Pierce Lam's letter ("ESF admission policy smacks of segregation", February 19). I agree with Mr Lam's argument about segregation in Hong Kong's education system, and would even go so far as saying that this city is currently plagued by an "educational apartheid".
I share his view that the practice of offering two segregated systems of subsidised English-medium education - one for Chinese and the other for non-Chinese - is long out of date and no longer relevant in post-colonial Hong Kong. I wish to add that, instead, we should have a "one size fits all" subsidised education system - one that accommodates everyone, whether it be local Chinese, mainland Chinese, Westerners, ethnic minorities or other foreign expatriates.
Mr Lam insists that we must respect our local schools, and further states that in Asian countries like Japan, expatriates who want public education for their children have to send them to local schools. He even boasts about Hong Kong's local schools supposedly being "superior" to schools in Japan and in most of our expatriates' home countries.
I would like to ask Mr Lam one question. If our local schools really are so superior to schools in other places, why are we seeing so few non-Chinese members of our society sending their children to these schools?
One answer to that I can give is that local schools are reluctant to take on non-Chinese or non-Cantonese speaking children.
On the one hand, Mr Lam criticises the English Schools Foundation for promoting educational segregation, but on the other hand, he fails to acknowledge the local schools' contribution to this dilemma. So, because of this, the choice given to the city's expatriates is loud and clear: extortionate international schools, the ESF, or leave Hong Kong.
As many of us are aware, due to limited places at international and ESF schools, many expats are left with only the third choice. As your correspondent correctly points out, we hear about expats in other cities in the region sending their children to local schools with seemingly little trouble.
I'm sure that this is another reason why many foreigners are leaving Hong Kong, as they search elsewhere in the region for better schooling opportunities for their children.
If this city is supposedly Asia's world city, why is our "superior" education system failing to adopt a similar approach to those of other parts of the world?
Andrew Nunn, Tai Po
Then in the online comments to Andrew Nunn’s letter we have Pierce Lam trying to defend himself. As James correctly points out, it’s where we really see his true colours. What he appears not to understand is that you can’t win this type of debate by insulting your opponents and blindly repeating your own arguments – you have to engage with them.
Here are some of Pierce Lam’s comments on Andrew Nunn’s letter (by the way, he’s pretending not to be Pierce Lam):
You should republish more of Mr. LAM’s past expositions
I consider them fair and see no inconsistence across the years
Your purpose is to postulate a relation
Next you may look under bed
then the carpet and down the toilet
The malodor can only be from you because of your operations and prejudice
Won’t care less whether you’re an armchair archivist
and professional spy, or vise versa
But 2008, pslhk and PIERCE LAM ?
Cowards who dare not face facts and arguments
turn to focus on speakers and writers
Mr LAM should look you up
if he wishes to collate his past letters for an anthology
and invite HdQ to write a graceful preface
expressing feelings so strong, and hatred so blatant
totally ad hominem
against evidence based arguments
which they know not how to respond intelligently
too rabid and too uneducated
What may I do about rabies dogs?
Pity? Not really.
Laugh ? A bid unkind
Fools like that help me understand differences
why the inquisition, why the conquisitors, why the Opium Wars
They care only about their interests
which if they perceive threatened, they’ll do what they can
I’m interested in reasons and discussions.
They're obssessed with selfish privileges.
I shouldn’t waste my time with these (what’re they?)
Henceforth in debates,
I'd treat them as what they deserve, non-existent.
These aren't my equals
These (what’re they?) won’t in any slightest way
diminish my enjoyment of a pleasant weekend
and my continued interest in writing my opinions
Andrew Nunn (01MAR)
“I share (Pierce LAM’s) view that the practice of offering two segregated systems of subsidised English-medium education - one for Chinese and the other for non-Chinese - is long out of date and no longer relevant in post-colonial Hong Kong.”
really it comes down to racism and money…
This idea of heavily subsidizing foreign education is a major colonial hangover.
whymak (02 MAR)
Pierce Lam’s remark on education apartheid is most appropriate
* unicef CRC (Article 2) prohibits the kind of language discrimination which ESF shamelessly flaunts in it admission policy (01MAR)
* there should be no public subsidies for ESF schools until they comply with
a) HKBoR (Art 1) and unicef CRC (Art 2) prohibition against linguistic discrimination, and
b) the Hague Recommendations Regarding the Education Rights of National Minorities requiring minorities to integrate with local community
thru the acquisition of the state language (02MAR)
* resallen is still evading the relevant and material statistics which I repeated in my (01MAR) comments that have disappeared from SCMP’s webpage. If I find them, I’d post them again on Monday. Not for resallen who is hopeless but for exposing again her bigotry.
enough social service
now ... personal time