Give teachers the tools to provide good life and moral education
Recently, Fanny Law, Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower, attended a forum on life and moral education hosted by the Society for Truth and Light at which she called for positive thinking on how to counter the prevailing moods of negativism, 'victimism' and faultfinding, and how to conduct such education effectively. I have some suggestions.
To achieve effective life and moral education, the teacher's role is paramount. Teachers can provide good role models for students and disseminate values to them. However, two questions may arise: What kind of life are our teachers leading? And how can its quality be improved so students benefit? I would suggest three steps to strengthen teachers' lives so they can influence their students positively.
Firstly, teachers should be encouraged to reflect on their professional life and values. They are often too busy to do this, resulting in a loss of direction, meaning and inner strength. Extra manpower and resources from the government could help revitalise teachers by creating time for such reflection. The government should also initiate more public discussion on society's core values and their role in education. In schools, principals should lead self-reflection and provide opportunities for teachers to reflect on personal, societal and educational values. Without a moral anchor and a clear vision, teachers and schools cannot be expected to deliver good life and moral education.
Secondly, teachers should be strengthened by surrounding them with good examples and practices. They must realise they are not alone in promoting proper values and nurturing the young. The system and schools should publicise stories about worthy educational efforts. Teachers would also benefit from training in life skills, such as emotional competence, and in skills necessary to carry out effective life and moral education. Here, resources provided by government departments or NGOs commissioned by the government would be of tremendous help.
Lastly, teachers should be helped to 'actualise' themselves. The current education reform must be structured so a teacher's vision of a good and influential teaching life is realisable. Measures must be put in place to stop paperwork, exam pressures and non-educational endeavours taking teachers away from their students. To empower teachers to do what is best for students, school authorities should practice value-based shared leadership.
If teachers' lives can be enriched accordingly, they will be more able to deliver an effective life and moral education to their students.
Principal, Tsung Tsin College, Tuen Mun
ESF school grants on low side
I refer to the letter 'ESF grants unfair to local schools' (Education Post, February 19). I fully agree with the author's view that the subvention should be equal for ESF and local schools. However, the author has a misunderstanding that ESF students receive 'disproportionately higher subvention'. In fact, most Hong Kong people believe this, leading falsely to the conclusion that government should cut the ESF subvention. This would certainly be unfair to ESF students.
Actually ESF students currently receive less subsidy than local students. According to the ESF Audit Commission report released in November 2004, in the year 2003-04, the average per-student recurrent government subsidy was:
ESF primary $21,097 a year; secondary $29,678 a year.
Local primary $23,592 a year; secondary $33,637 a year.
Therefore, according to the equality principle with which most people agree, the government should increase the ESF subsidy rather than further reduce it.
The author also says society should spend more on those schools with poorer quality education. In that case, good schools would receive less subvention and their students would be penalised with higher fees, making such schools only available to the rich. This contradicts what the author advocates in terms of equality and is unreasonable. It would just discourage schools from achieving high standards.
Design a university with vision
Let's hope the University of Hong Kong gets the $2.5 billion it needs to expand its Pokfulam campus. Let's hope it uses it to build a campus that looks nothing like the current one, which, with its beautiful main building encircled by concrete-pyloned highway flyovers, among other eyesores, must be one of the ugliest in the world.
Let's hope the university has learnt from the short-sighted, piece-meal design and architectural decisions which have led to the current campus, and will create a new one with some vision.