Teachers and administrators at Hong Kong schools now have a clearer set of guidelines on their behaviour under a revised code of conduct introduced by the government. The rules announced on December 15 will set out “the bottom line clearly for teachers to comprehend” and help educators because they will not “just be empty principles”, according to Secretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin. The change was set in motion by the former administration after some teachers were accused of joining or inciting students to participate in illegal activities during social unrest in 2019. Eight principles are outlined in the guidelines, including directives to “proactively support and promote national education” and report potential illegal activities or “morally deviant information”, as well as to abide by the rule of law, be role models and respect others’ privacy. ‘Hong Kong teachers can still mention political events with sufficient knowledge’ The Education Bureau guidelines should be welcomed for providing clarity for teaching staff and their supervisors after months of uncertainty. Questions remain, however, about disciplinary procedures teachers face. Schools will have to compile investigation reports for authorities on complaints against them. Penalties range from warnings to deregistration for at least three years and up to life. In the past, complaints were handled by a self-regulatory body that the government dissolved in May. The role will now be handled by a task force comprising directorate grade education officials, raising valid concerns about how teachers’ concerns will be addressed. Independent representatives should also have a say on the body to ensure fairness. Another worry is a requirement that teachers not choose teaching materials that are “misaligned with the Education Bureau and relevant guidelines”. Many Hong Kong schools get failing marks on national security teaching Many fear this will leave teachers trying to second-guess what the bureau wants. While it is important that educators are not forced to walk on eggshells about what they can or cannot teach, they should also use common sense and mature judgment rather than expect the bureau to work everything out. With morale already low and turnover high among teachers in secondary schools, it is time for officials and educators to build mutual trust by moving forward with flexibility and wisdom.