My Take

Too many teachers in Hong Kong lack empathy and common sense

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 July, 2015, 12:37am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 July, 2015, 12:37am

Many people must wonder how senior staff at the CCC Kei Chun Primary School could be so heartless in the way they acted in the death of 10-year-old Law Cheuk-ki, who died after falling from a school building.

They did not call the emergency 999 hotline, instead opting for the slower St John Ambulance service. When medics called for more details about the incident, a vice-principal refused to go into details. The coroner at Law's death inquest blasted one vice-principal, Ko Yuen-wah, for not being "trustworthy" and said the testimony of another vice-principal, Shek Ling, was "full of nonsense and lies".

Having had first-hand experience with my son at one of these local religious aided schools, I can't say I am surprised. While their callousness was indeed extreme and exceptional, having a cavalier attitude towards the welfare and interest of pupils is by no means uncommon, especially among some long-serving teachers and senior staff such as vice-principals and principals.

One reason is that having been so long at the same schools and never really worked anywhere else, they have become ignorant tyrants in their little kingdoms, and become unaccountable, especially to parents who are usually too fearful and powerless to do anything. Others have grown cynical about education and its nature and purpose. Not all teachers are like that; many are dedicated and committed but you do have a few bad apples.

My kid had a nose bleed in class once. The classmate next to him handed him a tissue. Guess what? The teacher reprimanded the kid for giving my son the tissue without permission and instructed him to take it back. She sent my son to the toilet to clean himself up. Another time, a friendly classmate waved to the parents during school assembly and was promptly reprimanded for not standing still. I know these were small things but they do say a lot about the kind of teaching staff you are dealing with.

The government's school-based reform was to introduce more accountability into schools. It was stringently resisted by several school-sponsoring bodies such as the Catholic and Anglican churches. Though the government won at the Court of Final Appeal, nothing has really changed at many of those schools.