Education Bureau orders 'black watch' on protest teachers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 September, 2012, 1:28pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 September, 2012, 2:52pm

As protests against national education gathered steam in recent days, the Education Bureau ordered government school headmasters to watch their teachers’ support for the campaign, a union leader said on Friday.

The chairman of the Union of Government School Teachers, Wong Hon-kam, said the bureau has sent two such orders to schools.

Late last month it asked the headmasters to gauge teachers’ reactions. The bureau’s notice said that if teachers “carry out any class boycott” or “reject any work related to the national education subject”, the bureau “will consider how to deal with individual cases based on the actual situation”, said Wong.

The bureau issued the second notice this week, asking school principals to record how many teachers wore black clothes, and how many students wore black ribbons on their wrists at school.

On Monday, the alliance against national education asked people to show their opposition to the controversial course by wearing black clothes and tying black ribbons on their wrists.

The notices made some teachers at government schools feel they were being highly pressured to abstain from protesting, Wong said.

“Some teachers are wearing black clothes to show that they have a conscience,” he said. “But some dare not wear them because they are feeling mentally stressed out.”

The union wrote a petition letter on Wednesday to the bureau to ask for clarification, but it still has not received any response.

The public campaign against the new national education course has spread from schools to the wider community, with university students and scholars calling for a city-wide class boycott in universities next week.

Every evening since Monday, this week, several thousand people have gathered at government headquarters in one of the longest protests since the handover.