Native English-speaking teachers do not get same perks as locals

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 October, 2015, 3:55pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 October, 2015, 3:55pm

I believe I speak on behalf of many diligent and devoted native English-speaking teachers (NETs) when I say we are sick and tired of references to our contractual salary, and the insinuations that local teachers deserve the same or receive less.

How about counting all the perks like promotion, not having to apply for your job every two years and retiring with a million dollar cheque, areas we sacrifice on accepting this job?

May I remind those concerned that we may receive more in terms of certain monthly allowances, but this pales into insignificance when compared to the opportunities for promotion and retirement perks for local teachers. If you add up the so-called extras of NETs who may work here for 10 years, it will never come anywhere near as close.

Over the years, there have been numerous letters in these columns questioning our necessity or effectiveness in Hong Kong. Holding NETs responsible for falling standards of English is mind-boggling given the amount of time NETs spend with any one class.

That many NETs teach up to 17 different classes for a single lesson of 35 minutes per week proves that NETs cannot be held responsible for the falling standards of English in Hong Kong.

If anything they should be applauded for juggling the huge number of classes they are assigned, the hours taken to prepare for different form levels as well as one or two full English classes, assisting in extracurricular activities, and staying sane through it all.

The deployment of the NET in Hong Kong has mostly rested on the notion that local English teachers are working much harder because they have more marking. This is a simplistic measurement that continues to undermine the experience and expertise NETs bring to their jobs.

NETs are here because these jobs were advertised in our home countries. Like any company, the Education Bureau is fully aware that overseas recruitment requires a respectable package simply because (locals seem unaware of this) we must meet costs of living in Hong Kong and take care of children, home, family, ageing parents or even ill partners in our home countries.

Most NETs are wholeheartedly loyal to their school and colleagues. We love our students without exception and pride ourselves on making a difference every single day, however small.

Leave NETs alone, please. We are already doing more than our best.

Betty Bownath, Hung Hom