Education groups want professionals on board

Cynthia Wan

Education concern groups have joined forces to push for more than half of registered members on school boards to be professionals with degrees.

The criterion is omitted from a proposal drawn up by the School-Based Management Committee - an advisory body under the Education Department - to increase accountability of school boards.

'School boards will be the ultimate bodies in policy-making and management for schools,' said Wong Hak-lim, vice-president of the Professional Teachers' Union. 'They should include professional people related to young people's development, such as psychologists and doctors.' The union's views are shared by the Federation of Education Workers, Education Convergence and the Civic Education Co-ordinators' Association.

At present, most office-bearers are appointed because they donate to the schools.

The Education Ordinance does not specify what qualifications board members should have or what the boards' make-up should be.

But laws will be introduced next year to boost professionalism of the bodies as the department decentralises powers to schools under the school-based management programme.

The proposal, to be scrutinised by Legco next year, suggests a board member should be aged between 21 and 70 and should hold office in no more than five schools at any one time.

More than half of the members can be appointed by the sponsoring bodies, with at least two teachers and two parents and the principal elected as ex-officio members.

Board members should undergo training in school management and education.

The Association of Sponsoring Bodies of Schools, representing about 25 groups, has written to the Education Department opposing the suggestions.

It argues that some major sponsoring bodies, involving 40 to 50 schools, would be unable to appoint enough qualified people to the boards.