THE Education Department has dismissed criticism that the proposed assessment of non-graduate teacher qualifications would lower teaching standards, and has promised that all candidates who pass the tests would qualify as teachers. Speaking after a recent school prize-giving, Mr Dominic Wong Shing-wah, Director of Education, said the scheme would assess both the applicants' academic qualifications and educational training. ''I am confident that successful candidates, after being tested on qualifications and educational skills, will be up to standard to teach in schools,'' he said. Mr Wong's assurance came after recent comments by some educationists who attacked the assessment scheme, which allows graduates from places outside the British Commonwealth, like China and Taiwan, to teach in Hongkong. The influential Professional Teachers' Union (PTU) has voiced doubts about the effectiveness of the scheme, saying the proposed plans could not ensure the flow of qualified teachers. ''We have only a few months before the assessment is made in May,'' said PTU chairman Mr Cheung Man-kwong. ''We wonder if the applicants and other educationists have enough time to study the scheme properly. ''We are concerned that, without proper consultation and planning, the scheme would result in an influx of unqualified teachers, thus causing a drop in teaching standards,'' Mr Cheung added. The union demanded that overseas graduates be required to take formal compulsory training courses and have both their English and Chinese skills tested, in addition to passing an assessment of basic academic abilities. According to initial proposals, the assessment will include three parts to test a candidate's language proficiency, general education knowledge and professional knowledge. There will also be a training course, but only for those who have not been trained before. It will be an in-service training, allowing people to teach while following the course. Mr Wong said the assessment would classify three types of candidates: Those with good academic qualifications and training will become qualified non-graduate teachers. Those with good academic qualifications but with no training in education skills will be given a two-year in-service training course before qualifying as non-graduate teachers. Those with good academic qualifications but who have no intention of getting further training will not be up-graded and their salary will be lower than that of the non-graduate teachers.