The school year has just begun but one in three teachers is thinking of quitting, a survey released ahead of today's Teacher Respect Day reveals. The study by the Hong Kong Women Teachers' Organisation found that 30 per cent of the 563 teachers interviewed would quit if another job with similar pay became available. Both male and female teachers felt that a lack of respect, coupled with high expectations, had made the profession less appealing, especially to young people. 'Those who teach English, accounting, computers and geography find it easy to leave because they can easily find jobs out there,' chairwoman Pauline Chow Lo-sai said. 'This is especially true for young people who tend to have lower pay. They don't think of it as a career. This is a very bad sign.' Last year an Education Employees' General Union survey found that 72 per cent of 1,600 primary and secondary teachers considered quitting because of stress and that 95 per cent worked more than nine hours a day. Ms Chow explained that most teachers were finding it hard to reconcile the high expectations they had to live up to with the lack of respect they were shown. More than 40 per cent of the teachers surveyed last week had been verbally abused by students, the survey found. About 22 per cent felt society as a whole had lost respect for their profession. At the same time, 49 per cent believed society had very high expectations of them - and imposed impossibly high moral standards on them. As a result, 36 per cent of those interviewed chose to conceal their profession in the presence of strangers. 'People have such high moral expectations when they hear you are a teacher,' said Ms Chow, who has been teaching for 41 years. 'You can't even order a beer without them judging you.' Blaming the media and the government for the loss of respect for the profession, she added: 'We are portrayed as ugly characters on television, the government criticises us, the media dwells on the benchmark tests and schools are closing down.' Her organisation hopes the government will fund and promote a public campaign to promote respect for teachers. Today's Teacher Respect Day is an annual event that is organised by the Education and Manpower Bureau. Teachers are singled out for recognition during the annual ceremony, held at the end of the first week of the school year.