A teachers’ union has urged the government to boost spending on education and prioritize tasks such as enhancing the teacher-student ratio in local schools.
The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU) pointed out Thursday that the government’s spending on education amounts to only 3.3 percent of the city’s gross domestic product, compared with a figure of about 4.5 percent in other advanced economies.
The current expenditure levels mean there is still great room for more public funds to be allocated to education, the union said.
Saying that it welcomes chief executive-elect Carrie Lam’s pledge to focus more on the sector, the HKPTU urged the incoming administration to look into issues such as improving the teacher-pupil ratio and offering permanent positions to more contract teaching staff.
Lam said last week that she will put education at the top of her agenda, promising to inject an extra HK$5 billion per year into education after she takes office in July.
Unveiling a wishlist, the HKPTU said on Thursday that the additional funds must be put to best use, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The wishlist was compiled after a survey was conducted between March 30 and April 10 on the union’s 3,291 members, a list that includes teachers at secondary schools, primary schools and kindergartens.
The survey identified nine things as being in most urgent need of improvement, including the class-teacher ratio, turning more contract posts into permanent ones, and setting salary scales forkindergarten teachers.
According to the HKPTU, addressing the nine proposals will cost the government less than HK$4 billion.
Lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen, who is vice president of the teachers’ union, said it will be good if another HK$5-10 billion is added to Lam’s promised additional amount in the 2018-2019 fiscal year for education.
The spending could be increased further in later years depending on the situation, he said.
In related news, a survey released by the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers showed that 93 percent of the 1,717 respondents identified improvement of the teacher-student ratio as the most pressing task for the new government.
Among other issues, 91.8 percent also wanted to see more permanent posts created for teachers who work under contract.
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