Ways to enhance the quality of our teachers

February 19, 2019 16:51
Many teachers have been overwhelmed by administrative duties, which deprive them of time and energy to develop new teaching strategies or offer care and guidance for individual students. Photo: Xinhua

Our education system and policy should aim at promoting teaching excellence and effective learning to cater for the needs of students, who are the recipients of education.

I would suggest that the government and the public re-examine and focus on the following three dimensions for improving teaching and learning in Hong Kong:

1. Reflecting on and improving the education policy

While resources are necessary, they are not sufficient to enhance the quality of education, which in fact depends on the government’s education policy formulation and guidance.

Since reform proposals for the local education system were adopted in 2000, Hong Kong has swung in a pendulum shift, from advocating the nurturing of the long-term well-being and happiness of students to adhering to examination-oriented teaching and learning.

In the primary school, for example, after a brief focus on promoting the overall development of students, and engaging them in more extracurricular activities, the emphasis is again shifting back to formal classes.

The reforms have also given rise to managerialism, which has overwhelmed teachers with administrative burden, meetings and paperwork, depriving them of time and energy to develop new teaching strategies or offer care and guidance for individual students. Teachers are becoming administrative workers rather than facilitators to learners.

Despite the provision of more funding, administrative work remains excessive. The Education Bureau should take the lead in simplifying school administration so as to reduce teachers' administrative work.

2. Providing teachers with clear promotion opportunities

With the Hong Kong SAR government announcing the implementation of an all-graduate teaching force policy in public-sector primary and secondary schools in the 2018 policy address, career development for primary school teachers has been finally enhanced.

Sadly, little progress has been made regarding secondary school teachers' career path as the proportion of senior graduate teacher posts remains very small.

Worse still, promotion of teachers in Hong Kong is more linked to their performance in handling administrative work than their achievements in actual teaching, which is rather unfortunate as teachers should be encouraged to do further studies and develop new teaching methods for enhancing teaching and student learning.

3. Enhancing teacher professionalism

To boost the quality of our teachers, the Education Bureau should consider introducing paid study leave to encourage teachers to take a break from their work life for further studies, or attend education conferences.

Teachers should also be encouraged to visit local international schools or overseas institutions to learn new ideas.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 16

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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