Graduate teachers in demand ahead of new school year
Government measures to relieve stress spurs drive to recruit students early
Students in their final year of teacher education are being snapped up by schools even before they finish their courses.
The Hong Kong Institute of Education has seen more of its students offered jobs, three to four months before the start of the new academic year.
Angie Yeon Yuk-mei, counsellor of the student affairs office at the HKIEd, said the increased demand stemmed from the government's announcement of a series of measures to relieve teacher stress in February, including the injection of more funding into the capacity enhancement grant and the provision of more teachers to schools admitting mainly lower-band students.
Students usually received offers in July or August, she said, but this year some found a job as early as last month.
Stella Kong Wai-yu, a senior lecturer of English at the institute, said at least 30 out of 47 students enrolling in the Bachelor of Education (English) had secured an offer. Of the remaining, some were going through the interviewing process while about seven or eight students would switch to another career.
The job market seems promising for students in other subjects. Frances Kwong Lai-man, a final year student in BEd (languages) majoring in Chinese, said about half of her peer group had found a job. She said having been trained in teaching Putonghua and with the experience of teaching and studying in China, students in her course were well-prepared as more secondary schools opted for teaching Chinese in Putonghua.
Leung Chiu-yin, a Bed student of secondary education majoring in physical education and who has already been offered a job, said about one-third of those in his course had got a job and many were now attending interviews.
William Yip Kam-yuen, chairman of the Aided Secondary School Heads' Council, said principals liked newly qualified teachers because they were more flexible in adapting to new curriculum and teaching methodologies. 'New teachers are able to motivate the unmotivated,' he said.
James Hon Lin-shan, deputy director of the complaints and rights department of the Professional Teachers' Union, said the early retirement scheme was one reason why schools were busy recruiting new staff. About 170 secondary school teachers will retire early at the end of the school year.
He said despite falling student enrolment, teacher redundancy was not as serious this year as in previous years. The threat of school closures was less serious in primary schools since many had already been closed, while secondary schools were yet to be affected.