‘Morale is low’: overloaded Hong Kong teachers demand more manpower from new government

Union head says the Education Bureau has been piling additional tasks on teachers and schools, but had not increased staff

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 April, 2017, 12:27pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 April, 2017, 12:39pm

Hong Kong’s incoming government needs to hire more school teachers to handle an increasing workload, the president of the Professional Teachers Union said.

Fung Wai-wah said the Education Bureau had been piling additional tasks on teachers and schools, such as integrated education and more assessments, but had not increased manpower. In some cases, the bureau had even cut teaching staff due to the city’s shrinking secondary school population.

“Many new teachers are on a contractual basis or teaching assistants,” Fung said on a Commercial Radio programme on Saturday.

“Teachers’ morale has been very low.”

Trust, not tests, is the real issue with TSA

James Lam Yat-fung, chairman of the Hong Kong Subsidised Secondary Schools Council, agreed that there had been a manpower shortage in schools.

He added that student learning capabilities had also widened because shrinking secondary school numbers had led to a more varied range of pupils being admitted into institutions.

Lam said teachers needed to tend to individual students’ personal growth in addition to their regular duties.

“There is no comprehensive plan [by the bureau] based on the changing population,” Lam said.

Education Convergence chairman Ho Hon-kuen said he hoped the next government would listen to opinions from across the industry instead of just a select few.

Revamped tests extended to all Hong Kong primary schools

Lam, also on a government-appointed committee tasked with reviewing the territory-wide system assessment for Primary Three pupils – the citywide test that has been heavily criticised by parents and teachers – said the exam had been revamped to remedy parents’ concerns.

But with many parents still opposed to the revised exam, Lam urged them to at least give it a try.

“If we still find problems in the new exam, we can keep improving the system,” Lam said.

Fung argued that the authority should restart the exam after resolving the problems. He said the bureau had agreed to allow Primary Six students to take the same exam every other year, and he did not understand why the same system could not be applied to Primary Three students.