Leadership scheme stirs controversy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 October, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 October, 1999, 12:00am

A leadership training programme for school principals, proposed by the Education Department, has received a mixed response from educators.

The proposal requires all principals, including serving and potential principals, to join the training programme.

In his third Policy Address yesterday, Chief executive Tung Chee-hwa said the first programme was scheduled to commence in the 2000-01 school year. Thereafter, all newly appointed principals will have to complete the first part of the programme prior to appointment.

The aim of the programme is to equip principals with skills to meet the challenges of the new millennium.

Participants will receive a Certificate of Principalship upon successful completion of the programme.

Mervyn Cheung Man-ping, chairman of the Hong Kong Education Policy Concern Organisation, said the training programme might help to improve the education system but was unfair to serving principals.

'The proposal fails to recognise the skills of serving principals and the training they had received,' Mr Cheung said.

He said the proposal also failed to recognise the professionalism of courses provided by tertiary institutions and education institutes.

In a letter to the South China Morning Post, a school principal welcomed the move but said it would have to be carefully implemented.

The Education Department said all serving principals should complete the training programme according to the timetable set by the department.

The programme would comprise five parts: self-assessment; leadership development; a set of core, elective and school-based modules; an individual school project, and a final assessment.

About 150 training places would be available in the first year and the number would be increased to 200 each year in subsequent years.

Mr Cheung had doubts about the number of training places.

'The department might fail to offer training to new and serving principals in time to meet its target,' he said.

'It should provide more places to ensure that all princi pals would get their certificates before the deadline.' 'We have taken into account the retirement and natural wast age of serving principals,' an Education Department spokesman said.

Educators also had queries about fees for the programme. The department has promised to provide participants with a sub sidy equivalent to half the course fee, up to a maximum of $30,000.

Mr Cheung criticised the move. 'It seems discriminatory as principals are treated differently from teachers. Teachers are provided with training courses free of charge,' he said.

The department spokesman had said that the proposal was only a consultation paper and the draft would be amended after seeking the views of the education community.