Education chief warns teachers against misconduct

December 12, 2019 13:30
Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung said his bureau is taking all complaints against teachers seriously. Photo: HKEJ

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung has warned teachers against misconduct, saying his bureau is taking all complaints against them seriously.

The warning came after a spokesman for the Education Bureau (EDB) revealed that it is investigating 106 cases lodged against teachers regarding their professional conduct from mid-June to early November, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

A number of teachers were arrested for offenses related to anti-government protests that began in early June.

On Monday, a teacher was among 12 people who were arrested in Sheung Shui for unlawful assembly and possession of instruments fit for unlawful purpose after protesters tried to block roads in response to an online call for a citywide strike.

The EDB said it has recommended that the teacher be suspended from his duties.

But education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen opposed the EDB move, saying it is like “making a judgment before the trial”.

Pro-establishment legislator Ann Chiang Lai-wan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said the incident exposed the failure of schools to effectively monitor the conduct of teachers.

She urged the EDB to provide subsidies for schools to install CCTV cameras in their classrooms.

Meanwhile, the EDB spokesman said the bureau has completed a preliminary investigation of 60 of the cases filed against teachers.

Of the 60 cases, about 30 have been preliminarily substantiated. The EDB has issued letters of reprimand in connection with two of the cases, and is considering punishments for the other breaches.

The EDB said it attaches great importance to teachers' professional conduct and students' behavior, stressing that whatever they say or do must conform with social expectations with regard to their morality and professionalism.

Speaking to media on Wednesday, Yeung said the EDB, as the registration authority for teachers, will stringently follow up on all the cases involving teachers.

"Whenever we receive a complaint or we are notified of any cases of teachers being arrested or charged for some offenses, we take these cases seriously," Yeung said.

“We will consider the background of the case, what's actually happening in these cases and then decide whether there is misconduct on the teacher's part.

“So if there is really some misconduct behavior, we will consider necessary disciplinary actions as we are the registration authority for teachers which include, maybe a warning, a reprimand or even de-registration if their offenses are very serious in nature,” the education chief said.

As for the factors that will be considered before a punishment is given, Yeung said the main one will be whether the teachers concerned are still suitable for teaching jobs.

The bureau will consider whether a teacher's action or behavior will have an impact on school management or the students’ safety, he added.

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