FIS: What is the state of the debate? [fr]
Please find below a message from the director of the Agency for French Teaching Abroad (AEFE) to the parents and staff of the French International School (FIS).
In this context, the Consulate wishes to bring to the notice of the FIS community the message of the AEFE and its new convention proposal after nine months of negotiations with the Board.
For a look at the stakes of the debate, please see (in French): "La priorité d’un Consul général reste l’intérêt supérieur des enfants".
The Consulate General has repeatedly stated its disagreement with the method used and considers that the process should have begun with providing transparent information and consulting with the parents before any vote.
The future of our children deserves that we reflect carefully on this issue.
As you know, for the past nine months, negotiations have been ongoing between the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) and the Board of Directors of the French International School of Hong Kong Victor Segalen (FIS) in relation to a new Convention. We have recently worked together on the language offering that resulted in a good outcome for all.
You will be able to decide on a few weeks’ time on the renewal of the Convention negotiated with the Board of the school; I would like to bring to your attention number of points:
1. The majority of the Board’s requests have been met during the renegotiation of the new Convention.
AEFE is very committed to maintaining its very special ties with FIS through the Convention arrangement, and has maintained, in good faith, a constant dialogue with the Board to answer many of their questions. AEFE has made every effort to achieve a mutually-satisfactory agreement that maintains this special relationship, taking into account the legal and regulatory framework it must respect as an operator of the French State, and the laws regarding international schools in Hong Kong.
In its discussions with the Board, AEFE has responded to the following points:
The Appointment of the Headmaster of FIS (article 15 of the Convention)
This process is a collaboration between AEFE and the Board. The job description and profile of the ideal candidate are closely agreed between the two parties, and AEFE then selects a candidate from a pool of highly qualified civil servants in France, or within the AEFE network. The proposed candidate is then forwarded to the Board from the commission in charge of the recruitment of this post, and the Board can then contact the candidate directly. The final decision on the choice of Headmaster is then made by the Director of AEFE, after obtaining the opinion of the Board and the Consul General of France in Hong Kong and Macau.
Staff Evaluation (article 16 of the Convention)
The system and evaluation criteria for local staff are developed by the Headmaster and the school’s Director of Human Resources within ad hoc labor-management committee, and approved by the Board.
For expatriate and resident staff, the Headmaster is in charge of evaluation. He is also responsible for record keeping and making sure the files of resident staff are passed onto his successor. The Headmaster also implements the procedures provided by AEFE in the event of any professional failure on the part of any expatriate or resident staff member.
The Organisation of the School’s Councils (Article 9 of the Convention)
The School Council (“Conseil d’établisssement”) has been adapted and widened to take into account FIS’ specificities. The School Council is presided by the Headmaster, who establishes its composition in consultation between the Head of the International Stream and the Board.
The School’s Project (“Projet d’établissement”) and the Strategic Plan of the Board (article 14 of the Convention)
The school’s project is voted and adopted by the School Council, following a consultation process involving the entire school community, under the co-ordination of the Headmaster. This is then brought to the Board, which approves it in line with the school’s strategic plan.
The School Council is responsible for the design, implementation, evaluation, and development of the project, in conjunction with the school community and in a collaborative manner. The project is subject to an annual review by the Board and the school’s management team.
The latest version of the Convention reflects the outcomes of negotiations to date. Given the similarities between the two schools, it is largely based on the Convention of the French International School of Singapore.
It is our hope that this new Convention is validated by the General Assembly of Parents, which is to be held on May 23rd
2. In view of the important decision you will have to make, I would like to remind you of the assistance that AEFE has provided to FIS, and the mutual support that the AEFE network provides in all circumstances.
The French International School of Hong Kong has been under a Convention with AEFE since 1st September 1990. Throughout these years, AEFE has provided it with unfailing support in its development, and has never failed to meet its commitments to it:
Real-estate project support : since 2007, AEFE has provided significant financial support for the school’s real-estate projects, in particular the renovation of the Chai Wan campus, which saw a decrease in the Participation rate for resident salaries from 63% to 58% in 2007, and to 52% in 2009 and 2010, which translated to a €435,000 saving to the school; and the Tseung Kwan O campus, where up to €3.5 million was provided, both without any differentiation between the French and International streams.
Human resources: In the current school year (2018-19), AEFE provides seven expatriate members of staff without any cost to the school, and supports 41 resident staff (14 in Primary and 27 in Secondary), for a total AEFE expenditure of €6.2 million. In return, the school pays a contribution of €3 million in resident salaries. After deducting an additional financial contribution of €1.7 million paid by the school to AEFE, the school will receive a net amount of €1.5 million this year.
Teaching support: AEFE is in charge of organising the continuous training of staff within the Asia-Pacific region. It organises advisory and follow-up visits to schools to ensure official recognition from the French Ministry of Education (“Homologation”). Recently, an AEFE inspection validated the new language program we established at FIS for the teaching of languages, which resulted in opening up this evolved program for all students. This new offering satisfied the requirements expressed by the school community, and was fully covered as part of the school’s contributions to AEFE.
I believe AEFE’s commitment, in terms of financial, personnel, and educational support provides a significant contribution to the development of FIS, which is now one of the largest and most prestigious French schools in the AEFE network.
Its full membership of the AEFE network provides a strong endorsement and strengthens the reputation of the school in Hong Kong, and also provides significant support for the mobility of families throughout the world.
3. If the Board were to decide to terminate the Convention, which would be an irreversible decision, the consequences would be significant.
The contracts of expatriate and resident staff members seconded by AEFE would be terminated no later than 31st August 2020. Under the French Ministry of Education regulations, they would first have to apply for their ‘reintegration’ in France. The school would then have to recruit staff under local contracts for the 2020-21 school year. This will likely lead to additional costs for the school, particularly to replace some of the management currently under expatriate status, and any direct deployment (“détachement”) by the French Ministry of Education cannot be guaranteed.
If the school were ‘in partnership’ with AEFE (“établissement partenaire”), it would be able to continue to participate in the Asia-Pacific Region teaching support, which is essential for any staff sent from the French Ministry of Education, and for the local staff to uphold certain standards of education. In that event, the school would pay 2% of its annual tuition fees received for the French stream to a designated school in charge of it (“établissement mutualisateur”). It would also need to continue its staff training plan, where a minimum amount of 1% of the payroll is strongly recommended.
In a context of ‘partnership’, AEFE would also no longer be able to support new renovation projects or real-estate extension plans in the future.
In addition, I would like to draw your attention that the school currently owes a debt to AEFE of €3,684,162, made up of the school’s 2018 additional financial contribution to AEFE, and the 2019 contribution to the resident staff salaries. AEFE will work with the Board to agree a payment plan for the settlement of this debt.
The question of the settlement of this debt is of course independent of the school’s status with AEFE.
I sincerely hope that the Convention between the French International School of Hong Kong Victor Segalen and AEFE can be renewed. It is now up to you to choose and we will, of course, comply with your choice.
The Agency is available to answer any questions you may have on this matter, and we will continue to work together with the Board in the best interests of the students.
- Letter from the AEFE director
- (PDF - 2.2 Mb)
- New AEFE convention proposal (in French)
- (PDF - 224.4 kb)