Teaching quality 'is under threat' in VTC overhaul
Redundancy plan expected to take heavy toll on ranks of senior staff
The quality of teaching at Vocational Training Council (VTC) campuses could deteriorate under a new management manpower plan, warn senior teaching staff.
The number of senior lecturers would be slashed in an eight-year cost-cutting and streamlining plan initiated with a voluntary redundancy programme by the end of next month.
The rank of teaching associates will be swollen under the plan, which projects 212 such vacancies by next year. Teaching associates are now paid $14,000 a month full-time. The minimum salary for an entry-level secondary school teacher is $17,000.
A shortfall of 53 lecturers has also been projected for the same year. But the manpower plan has identified a surplus of up to 29 senior lecturers by 2006.
Chan Wai-keung, chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (HKIVE) Teachers' Association, warned that education quality would suffer with the departure of experienced staff. 'The turnover rate could be high among the teaching associates, who may switch to schools where they can get higher salaries and promotional prospects. You cannot hire quality teachers with the salary offered.
'More senior lecturers from departments such as computing or IT where student enrolments may drop further in the coming years may have to go. The manpower plan should have included arrangements for staff development.'
He added costs could be saved instead by putting all IVE institutions under one single administrative unit. 'There is a lot of duplication of work now between the campuses and the council.'
He also criticised the heavy pay packages offered to top-level staff such as department heads.
About 200 of the 225 senior lecturers from the nine Institute of Vocational Education campuses, run by the council, took part in a signature campaign last week protesting against the reduction in number of jobs. Paul Yeung Hin-yiu, chairman of HKIVE Staff Association, said it was unfair that senior lecturers were targeted in the cost-saving exercise.
'Many are already near retirement age and it could be difficult for many to find jobs elsewhere,' he said.
In response to the staff complaints, the VTC's executive director Carrie Willis said surplus staff would be given priority under the upcoming voluntary redundancy scheme. She admitted the council was planning to hire more teaching associates, who will lead tutorials and take over administrative duties from lecturing staff so the latter could concentrate on teaching and curriculum design.