A recent media report about an alleged affair between a male secondary school teacher and a female student has sparked considerable public concern and has prompted the Council on Professional Conduct in Education to look into the case.
As a retired school headmaster, I am greatly dismayed by what appears to be an attempt by Secretary for Education Eddie Ng to capitalize on the scandal.
Last week, Ng told reporters that the council is ill equipped to deal with such cases.
He took the occasion to bring up a government proposal to appoint three extra parent representatives.
At first glance, the proposal might sound reasonable. Adding more members to the council might widen representation and boost its credibility.
However, most professional educators dismiss the idea as sugarcoating by a government determined to meddle in academic affairs, undermining the autonomy of our education system.
In fact, education is not the only area the government is targeting.
A growing number of professionals such as doctors, social workers and even lawyers are feeling the heat from increasing government interference in their industries.
In the case of the education sector, concern is growing that bringing in more parent representatives might create conflict within the council and undermine its impartiality.
Parents are bound to be personally invested when dealing with issues concerning their children.
On the other hand, educators are likely to be more detached and decide on the basis of their professional judgment.
In the end, having more parent representatives on the council might do more harm than good.
Members of the education sector should remain vigilant against any attempt to suppress our professional autonomy on the pretext of protecting students.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan. 13.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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