Trainee teachers fight for quality

ANGRY trainee teachers at the four colleges of education have criticised a recent government proposal to relax entry requirements for the three-year teaching courses.

The teachers were concerned that the move would produce ''unqualified teachers'' and lower the standard of teaching.

A large-scale signature campaign is underway at the four colleges to seek the support of thousands of students to protest against the proposal. Meetings with the Education Department are also scheduled.

The outburst followed the announcement that the Education Department was considering making entrance requirements for the teacher training courses ''more easy and simple to apply''.

If the proposal is passed, those with 11 points or passes in six HKCEE subjects at any number of sittings are eligible to apply.

The minimum entrance requirement now is two C grades, one D grade and three E grades, including English and Chinese languages, obtained in one HKCEE sitting.

The Education Department said the present practice was confusing to those who were uncertain if they were eligible to apply.

Josephine Yeung Oi-kwan, student representative of the four colleges, said the teaching quality would drop sharply if applicants were to enter the colleges on ''combined certificates''.

''Most tertiary institutions consider an applicant's qualifications as gained at one sitting. Why should we be any different, and relax our requirements? We fear discrimination if there was a difference.

''A low standard in the student intake would affect our chances of being upgraded to the status of degree-conferring colleges later on,'' the student said.

Even most government departments considered a job applicant's qualifications as they appeared on a single certificate rather than on a combination of certificates, she pointed out.

''The Government wants to just fill places by lowering entry requirements, without a thought about quality,'' she added.

But the Education Department dismissed the criticism, saying the courses had few empty places as they were more popular than the two-year courses.

The proposal is still under discussion, and the results will be released next month.

The four government-run colleges of education - Sir Robert Black, Northcote, Grantham, and Hongkong Technical Teachers' College - offer two-year courses for Advanced-level students and three-year courses for HKCEE students.

Figures show that the number of applications to the colleges has been dropping in recent years. The number of students enrolling for the two-year English teaching courses had fallen from 790 in 1990-91 to 328 in 1992-93.

Enrolment for the three-year English teaching courses had fallen from 437 in 1990-91 to 260 in 1991-92, but it rose to 424 in 1992-93.