Interviews leave laid-off teachers in limbo

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 12:00am

Staff who were made redundant due to a cut in classes fear schools will see them as damaged goods

Redundant teachers who attended government-organised job interviews yesterday said they held little hope of securing teaching posts because they feared schools would discriminate against them.

About 90 primary teachers made redundant due to a cut in the number of classes this year made a last-ditch effort to secure a job at the interviews organised by the Education and Manpower Bureau.

The two-day interview session followed pressure put on the government by the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, which staged two mass protests against the treatment of redundant teachers this month.

But despite bureau recommendations as a result of the interview process, schools are under no obligation to hire recommended candidates.

The bureau held three job fairs for 500 C last month, but 201 remained jobless and claimed some school principals saw them as second class.

To ensure fairness, the bureau invited veteran educators, school sponsoring representatives and education officials to sit on yesterday's selection panels recommending qualified teachers to individual schools.

But many of those interviewed were not optimistic about getting a job. One, Ms Cheung, pointed out schools could not be compelled to employ suitable candidates.

'All they need to do to drive us away is to say our qualifications do not fit in with their requirements. Even Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung says that schools have the final say in the appointment of teachers,' she said.

The primary school teacher, who has taught English for more than 20 years but has not yet passed the benchmark test, said she had attended more than 20 job interviews in the past few months.

She said she was trying in vain to memorise notes she had taken at a course organised by the Professional Teachers' Union to equip redundant teachers with interview techniques.

'I am the only financial pillar in my family. I don't know what to do if I cannot get a job,' she said.

Another redundant teacher, Ms Ho, added: 'The school representatives have already made up their minds before the interview sessions.

'They met us just because they were under pressure from the government to do so. Do you think it is fair for us?'

Lam Seung-wan, a committee member of Hong Kong Primary School Heads' Association, who interviewed 20 redundant teachers yesterday, described the performance of the majority of the jobseekers, aged between 20 and 55, as satisfactory.

About 100 redundant teachers will attend tomorrow's interview session.

The bureau has declined to say when the interview results will be released.