Highly qualified native English-speaking teachers complain they are not being used to their full potential. As more than 30 per cent drop out of the programme at the end of their two-year contracts, several Native English-speaking Teachers complain they feel restricted by strict curriculums, rules and cultural differences. Canadian Barbara Raphael, of SKH Li Fook Hing Secondary School in Chai Wan, said: 'We have not been used to our maximum potential. 'Teaching a 12-year-old to say 'thank you' is a waste of time. We wish to work more on the curriculum development and adaptation, as well as co-teaching with local teachers,' said Ms Raphael, who is in her 40s and has been a teacher for 10 years. She said local teachers who were less fluent in English were reluctant to approach her for help. 'It's because they're embarrassed,' said Ms Raphael, who will return to Vancouver after her two-year contract ends this year. Fellow Canadian David Mennier, 34, who works at Shek Lei Catholic Secondary School in Kwai Chung, said schools were too obsessive with rules, which had the effect of sometimes interfering with learning. 'If they want the students to be innovative, creative and multi-tasking, schools should keep the rules and curriculum, but there should be a little shift in the priorities as nothing is more important than learning,' he said. 'Native English-speaking teachers are a great resource but schools are not taking advantage. 'Each principal has his autonomy but there are no directives from the Education Department on how to use it.' Mr Mennier, who has six years' teaching experience and has taught in Japan, heads a support group for the teachers. He will stay for another two years. He denied claims there had been an exodus of the teachers at the 422 secondary schools since the programme was launched in 1998. Almost 70 per cent have indicated they will renew their contracts. Japan has a 60 per cent retention rate with a similar programme of about 600 teachers. Education Department senior education officer Clement Tsui Chi-wing said he understood some of the teachers might have problems carrying out their methods at schools. He said sharing sessions would be held to demonstrate that some 'good practices' have been learned from them.