Department's inflexible approach so disappointing

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 July, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 July, 1999, 12:00am

Not all school principals welcomed a recent Education Department proposal that they take part in leadership courses.

However, as a secondary school principal, I welcomed this proposal as being forward-looking and something that could only help improve the quality of education in Hong Kong.

School principals are going to face many challenges and changes, as we enter the new millennium.

However, in spite of the Education Department putting forward this proposal, when it came to my case, it was a case of officials adopting double standards.

The department encouraged principals to take paid study leave. Heads and teachers are entitled to take paid study leave up to one year.

However, my application for half-year study leave for the last stage of my course at a local university on leadership and quality education, was turned down on the grounds that the whole course lasts longer than a year.

If the department restricts the entire course length, instead of the requested study leave, to one year, this would appear to be an unusually rigid interpretation of its own rule. The programme length of such a course will depend upon whether you are studying full-time or part-time modes.

All along, I thought I was helping the school by doing as much of the course part-time. In other words, most of the studying was being done in my own time, leaving only the last part as a full-time course, because this part involved a lot of field work.

The Education Department's proposal to enhance principals' leadership skills has been hampered by the adoption of a rigid and bureaucratic attitude.

It is all very well having worthy goals, but officials must have the flexibility to implement them.

If this was done, then the education system in Hong Kong would have a much brighter future.