EMB survey to assess NETs' cost of living
The government is to survey native English-speaking teachers' lifestyles and living costs after a delegation of NETs called for enhanced benefits.
The survey is due to be completed within two weeks and officials hope to put preliminary findings to Legco's education panel on June 30, where the Native English-speaking Teachers' Association will seek legislators' backing for a five-point plan to raise NETs' benefits.
The plan was drawn up by a Nesta group formed to fight for restoration of the NETs' full special allowance of $13,000, which was cut to $10,500 for some NETs last year. Others face the cut this year.
After compiling a dossier of information on NETs' cost of living, the group stepped up demands and asked for the special allowance to be increased to $15,000 for NETs starting in August. It is also calling for a 25 per cent across-the-board increase in the gratuity, long-service payments after five years, a fairer system for annual review of the special allowance and back-dated payments for teachers who faced the cut last year.
The group presented its dossier to the EMB on May 27 and sought permission on June 3 to put its case to the education panel. On the same day, the EMB issued new contracts for August with the special allowance set at $10,500.
Sam Hui Chark-shum, Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (Special Duties), said the reduction in the allowance had to go ahead because it could not be reviewed without Legco finance committee approval.
The EMB survey was a response to the delegation's argument that the special allowance should be increased to reflect a range of rising living costs for NETs.
Nesta chairman John Murnane said: 'The special allowance is essential to the success of the NET programme. Its reduction has seriously eroded NETs' morale.'