Carrie Lam

Surplus of Hong Kong teachers from class cuts will be retained for extra two years, Lam says

Eleven secondary schools will cut 13 classes in total in the coming school year; students asked to come back as chief executive visits alma mater

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 July, 2017, 2:57pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 July, 2017, 11:00pm

Hong Kong’s leader has announced a two-year extension to retain teachers made redundant by the cutting of classes.

Speaking before the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday morning, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said 11 secondary schools would need to cut a total of 13 classes in the coming school year because of the drop in student population.

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Lam said the new administration would allow the affected surplus teachers to stay until 2019. A similar retention programme was launched in the 2013/14 academic year.

Education Bureau chief Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said the government could not calculate the financial cost of the policy at this stage as the final number of schools and classes affected would only be revealed after pupils finished their enrolment in September.

The chief executive ... wanted to put teachers at ease
Kevin Yeung Yun-hung, Education Bureau

“The chief executive mentioned this measure in advance mainly because she wanted to put teachers at ease,” Yeung said.

Yeung added that the problem of redundant teachers would get better in the coming years due to increasing numbers of pupils entering secondary school, expected to be 3,700 more by 2019/20 than the 45,544 pupils last year.

Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said he welcomed the policy but cautioned it might not benefit many schools. Ip also believed the measure could stablise morality in schools.

In addition, Lam revealed plans to ask the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee to prioritise discussion of an extra HK$4.3 billion of recurrent spending on the education sector as early as this Friday. On Monday, the funds proposal cleared its first hurdle at an education panel review.

Lam’s request was approved by finance committee chairman Chan Kin-por later in the afternoon.

Expressing gratitude to panel members, Lam said: “I hope [the proposal] can gain the support of members and be passed as soon as possible.”

Last week, she announced details of an extra HK$3.6 billion a year in education spending – part of a HK$5 billion plan she promised earlier – plus HK$714 million to extend the tide-over grant by three years for kindergartens offering free classes.

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Lam, who has listed education as one of her policy priorities, visited her alma mater, St Francis’ Canossian College in Wan Chai, after the Exco meeting. She sought to encourage the school’s Form Six pupils on the eve of the release of their exam results.

A source told the Post that school principal Kenneth Law Kan-chung received a surprise phone call from Lam’s office on Monday advising him the chief executive wanted to visit at noon the next day.

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The pupils took the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) examination from March to May, and were awaiting their results, which were due to released on Wednesday morning. The results determine their eligibility for universities or other tertiary institutions.

I told them to have confidence in themselves
Kenneth Law Kan-chung, school principal

As pupils have been on their summer break the last two months, teachers had to tell them to return to school on Tuesday morning to meet the city’s top official the source added.

About 40 children joined the hour-long meeting with her.

Law said of the visit: “She is just encouraging them because they are very nervous today since they are facing the DSE results tomorrow.”

After the visit, Lam shared her advice for the pupils: “I told them to have confidence in themselves.”

She last visited her alma mater on March 30, days after she won the city’s leadership race by bagging 777 votes from 1,194 Election Committee members.

Lam has previously said that the school, where she served as head girl in Form Seven, had helped shape her into who she is.

Additional reporting by Hana Davis