Four weeks into the new school year and thankfully nothing particularly unpleasant has happened in our schools so far.
However, there is still no room for any complacency for the Education Bureau, as there have been several things which the administration could have done substantially better.
First, Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim mistook lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung, who got re-elected through the so-called “super district council seat” constituency, for the winner of the functional constituency seat representing the education sector in his letter of congratulations.
Although it might not have been Secretary Ng’s mistake as he probably didn’t write the letter himself, the fact that such a careless mistake still occurred even after the letter had been proofread by at least several senior officials under him indicates that negligence could be commonplace among our top education officials.
Second, much to many schools’ dismay, the Education Bureau has suddenly ceased giving them allowances for buying extra-curricular books without any prior notice.
In fact, such special allowances had been around for more than 20 years, and many schools were simply displeased with the government’s failure to consult them first before canceling the allowances.
Third, on Sept. 6 the Hong Kong Post released a first-day cover comprising four newly-designed stamps celebrating Teachers’ Day 2016, and paid tribute to teachers in our city in its official website.
However, the official website of the Education Bureau , which is supposed to provide the most updated news on the education sector, didn’t mention a single word about Teachers’ Day this year.
Then a student of mine was recently awarded a commendation certificate in recognition of his outstanding performance as a teacher under the Teachers Commendation Scheme.
On the day he received the award he sent me a text message to share this piece of good news with me, and, sadly, another piece of bad news: his one-year teaching contract had just been terminated by his school due to budget constraints.
It is really ironic that an outstanding teacher like him was sacked just because the government has continued to refuse to open up more permanent teaching positions.
As a result, tens of thousands of young teachers in our city are constantly plagued by the prospect of unemployment, whereas those who are lucky enough to keep their short-term jobs have to suffer unequal pay.
“Plenty of room for improvement” simply cannot capture what is really going on in our education sector and the frustration of our teachers.
To address the pressing issues, we need real action rather than lip service.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 26.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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