Law defends NET's programme after university criticises it

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 5:52pm

A former top aide of the chief executive described as "over-politicised" a Baptist University-linked publication that levels allegations against other educational institutions and is currently the subject of a probe by the university itself.

The South China Morning Post reported last week that the Blue Book of Hong Kong Annual Report on Development of Hong Kong (2012) called for a government scheme to hire native English-speaking teachers (NET) to be scrapped, and alleged that the British Council was involved in the recruitment of these expatriates.

Executive councillor Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, formerly a leading education policymaker who helped oversee the scheme, defended the programme and said it had enhanced local students' grasp of the less commonly used official language of Hong Kong.

"Native English teachers have brought a new pedagogical approach in teaching English," Law told the Post. She rebutted the report's suggestion that the British Council has played a key role in the scheme. "The Blue Book's allegations about NET staff ... are over-politicised.

"Hong Kong is an international city," Law said, "and we encourage talent from different parts of the world to work here. The recruitment of NET staff and their settlement in Hong Kong is nothing extraordinary."

Part of the extended NET scheme was implemented after Law took up the post of director of education in 1998. She was promoted to secretary for education and manpower in 2000, and became permanent secretary for education and manpower in 2002.

The Blue Book advises that the NET scheme, in place since 1997, be abolished because of its social and political bearing on Hong Kong. It describes some of the teachers selected as having "taken root in Hong Kong".

Law, who headed Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's transitional office, said the Education Bureau also recruited these teachers from countries other than Britain, such as Australia and Canada. Education Bureau statistics up to July last year showed the city was home to about 1,000 foreign English teachers employed through the NET scheme every year.