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Hong Kong schools

Hong Kong teachers’ union calls for an extra HK$10 billion to be spent on schools

It says education funding in the public sector should account for 4.5pc of GDP rather than 3.3pc

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 April, 2017, 8:49pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 April, 2017, 10:56pm

Spending on public education should rise from the current 3.3 per cent of gross domestic product to 4.5 per cent, a teachers’ union has proposed.

It also suggested the next government use the additional HK$5 billion a year chief executive-elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she would spend on education to tackle pressing matters such as ­increasing the teacher-pupil ratio and ensuring that each primary school had one social worker and one counsellor.

“While the HK$5 billion can solve some of the problems, it cannot fully resolve the difficult situation we are in now,” Fung Wai-wah, president of the Professional Teachers’ Union, said.

The union hoped the next ­administration, which takes office on July 1, would inject as much as HK$10 billion next year.

The government has been using short-term subsidies to manage a long-term need
Fung Wai-wah, Professional Teachers’ Union

Fung said the administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had been “ill-treating” the education sector.

“Coupled with the administration before his, the government has been using short-term subsidies to manage a long-term need for manpower and resources for more than 10 years, hence related problems have accumulated over many years.”

He said education accounted for 21.2 per cent of government expenditure, compared with 23 per cent five years ago. The drop was even more glaring compared with the 25 per cent spent by ­former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa’s administration.

The union said that increasing education spending to 4.5 per cent of GDP would put the city on a par with average levels in other high-income societies, while ­noting the extra HK$5 billion would only increase the current level to 3.5 per cent.

The government’s recurrent spending on education in the 2016-17 financial year was about HK$74.7 billion.

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Separately, surveys released yesterday by the union and the Federation of Education Workers identified the most popular ways to use the promised extra money.

These included improving the teacher-pupil ratio, finding ­permanent jobs for staff now on contracts, providing care for ­pupils’ physical and emotional health, providing primary schools with at least one social worker and a counsellor, and strengthening support for vocational education.