Teachers angry over entrance exam change

TEACHERS are demanding answers from the Government as to why entrance standards for training colleges are being lowered.

They are accusing the Education Department of ignoring their reasons for keeping existing entrance qualifications and say the changes will cause a drop in teaching standards.

From September, would-be teachers will be able to start training college having passed six Hongkong Certificate of Education Examinations (HKCEEs) at two sittings rather than one.

The Government believes this will widen the pool of candidates without lowering standards.

But the Hongkong Professional Teachers' Union (HKPTU) yesterday called for an open meeting with Education Director, Mr Dominic Wong Shing-wah, to ask how standards will be maintained.

The union is also inviting more than 40,000 teachers to sign a petition opposing the change and is organising a protest march to Government House early next month.

Mr Chiu Chi-shing, HKPTU secretary, said yesterday: ''The changes will give a very bad image of teachers to the public because standards for teaching colleges will be lower than for anything else.

''Head teachers believe the educational reforms being introduced will only be successful if there is a better teaching force, so if anything, standards should be being raised.'' Allowing trainee teachers to take two sittings to pass the necessary six exams would undoubtedly lead to less able students entering teaching colleges, he said.

His union and other education groups want to meet Mr Wong to discuss the possibility of standards falling, but Mr Chiu doubted whether the invitation would be accepted.

''The director is not addressing the problems. The Government says it listens to people and to the Legislative Council, but that is only on political matters. With things like this, they just push through executive decisions,'' he said.

Mr Chiu, himself a lecturer at a college of education, said the quality of trainees had dropped considerably over the past decade. He said the entrance qualifications had already been effectively lowered, as it was easier to pass a HKCEE now than some years ago.

The HKPTU supports employing more teaching assistants to cope with teacher shortages while keeping the standards for would-be teachers high.

Mr Chiu said: ''We must not drop standards. If someone is not up to the standard of a teacher we must not call them a teacher, but they can help as teaching assistants.''