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Concern over the Problem of Students Committing Suicide

Dear Members,


The problem of students committing suicide has recently aroused widespread concern in society. I am deeply saddened by the spate of suicide cases. Personal factors are of course involved in these tragic cases, but there certainly exist problems relating to systems and social policies as well. On 16 March, the Hon Dennis Kwok, Dr the Hon Helena Wong pik-wan and I had a meeting with Secretary for Education Eddie Ng. At the meeting, I made the following points to the Education Bureau.

1. The Education Bureau should come up with measures to immediately reduce the workload of teachers, for example in TSA, external school reviews, overseas study tours, and tender work, instead of incessantly adding new tasks to them. Otherwise, this will instantly aggravate the work pressure on teachers while students’ problems remain unsolved.

2. Many new teachers do not have a sense of job security, especially those on short-term contracts. It has not been possible for them to establish and consolidate a long-term relationship with students. This has gradually undermined the system whereby teachers provide support to students. What is most important now is to restore the system whereby teachers provide support to students, and to allow teachers to have a breathing space.

3. Seriously review the education system and the examination system, abolish the Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) Primary Three Tests as soon as possible and review the curricula under the New Senior Secondary Curriculum and school-based assessments and allow students to have a breathing space.

4. A solution to thoroughly solve the problem lies in increasing, soonest possible, the number of, and resources for, teachers, social workers, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatric supporting staff in the education system.

5. The Education Bureau should get hold of and analyze data and reports on those schools which are vulnerable to crisis, and provide key support to them.

6. Organize multi-agency meetings involving the Education Bureau, the Labour and Welfare Bureau and the Food and Health Bureau, etc. so as to coordinate the work which needs to be done.

We call on parents and teachers to take better care of teenagers, to better understand the pressures that they face at home as well as inside and outside the school, listen to them about problems which they cannot solve and help them to overcome various crises that they face. We sincerely welcome fellow workers’ comments and ideas, which could be emailed to [email protected].

2016-03-21
Special Meeting of the Panel on Education of the Legislative Council
IP Kin-yuen: Listen to students' voices and identify as early as possible students in need of assistance(Speech)

Calling on the Government
to improve sub-standard school premises
Fighting for the creation
of Special Education Coordinator posts
Another big step towards HKIEd achieving the status of a university Snapshots Speeches

Calling on the Government to improve sub-standard school premises

At the moment, there still exist quite a number of schools that are more than 30 years old and some of them have an area of less than 1,000 square metres, which is far below the current standard for schools. These sub-standard schools include what are referred to as ‘matchbox’ schools, which do not even have children’s favourite: a decent playground.

Recently, I visited various types of sub-standard school premises. Their teaching space is seriously insufficient, their facilities are outdated, and they face the threats of spalling concrete and dangerous slopes. This is absolutely unfair to the development of sub-standard schools and to students studying therein.

At a meeting of Legislative Council’s Panel on Education, I urged the government to be true to the facts, take a realistic approach and, having regard to the needs of schools, come up with a clear plan to rebuild, relocate or comprehensively repair sub-standard schools, so as to enable teachers and students to have a reasonable and equitable teaching and learning space again.

 

Fighting for the creation of Special Education Coordinator posts

Earlier on, HKPTU conducted a questionnaire survey on the implementation of the Pilot Project on Special Educational Needs Coordinators financed by the Community Care Fund. The results show that 96% of the schools covered by the survey support the proposal of having Special Education Coordinator posts on the permanent establishment.

The greatest difficulty facing integration education lies, according to all the respondents, mainly in manpower and the establishment of posts. 77% of the respondents attributed the difficulty to a shortage of teaching posts on the establishment. As many as 71% of the respondents attributed the difficulty to the absence of Special Education Coordinator posts in the school’s permanent establishment. Other problems included the inadequacy of teacher training and the shortage of student assessment services.

HKPTU and I have therefore suggested that EDB should create permanent Special Education Coordinator posts for all schools with SEN students, improve the manpower establishment of primary and secondary schools and improve, as soon as possible, school-based educational psychology services.

 

Another big step towards HKIEd achieving the status of a university

I made arrangements for several pan-democratic Legislative Council Members to have a meeting on 29 January with HKIEd’s President, Professor Stephen Cheung Yan-leung, teaching staff and student representatives to listen to their opinions.
We unanimously agreed that there is no need to set up a Bills Committee and that the government should be urged to submit a bill to the Legislative Council for approval.

After making quite a number of attempts, we have now secured the government’s agreement to, as requested by Council Members, adopt the ‘easy-first-difficult-later’ principle and to advance the Hong Kong Institute of Education (Amendment) Bill 2016 for Legislative Council’s consideration. The Bill is currently second on the agenda and is very likely to be passed within the current session of the Legislative Council, which will enable this year’s HKIEd graduates to qualify as university graduates.

I hope that the management and teaching staff of the upcoming ‘Hong Kong Education University’ will uphold the conscience of intellectuals, defend academic freedom and institutional autonomy and put equal emphasis on teaching and research, continue to nurture talents and make significant contributions towards the promotion of education in Hong Kong.

 

 

Meeting with a German Parliamentary Delegation

On 29 February, I had a meeting with a delegation from Germany’s Parliament. Some of the delegates were those on whom a Legislative Council delegation called in March last year. Meeting each other once again after a year made everyone feel particularly close. Renewing friendship, we exchanged issues handled by Germany’s Parliament and Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. Among the issues we discussed was the problem of unequal value of votes in functional constituencies of the Legislative Council.

Attending a Forum on Education Policy

I attended an Education Policy Forum organized by the SCMP on 14 March, which discussed Hong Kong’s education system and the pressure faced by teachers and students. I mentioned that our existing education system seems to provide only one way out: only those who manage to get into a university are regarded as ‘successful’, a direct consequence of which is that the majority of our students are labeled as ‘losers’. The Government should, therefore, develop vocational education, so as to enable all students to study happily.

Attending a Seminar on the Predicament and Solutions of the New Generation Education

I attended a ‘Seminar on TSA Implementation and the Predicament and Solutions of the New Generation Education’ organized by the Methodist Church on 20 March. At the seminar, I mentioned that whilst children are supposed to learn rules, communication skills and body co-ordination skills from games of group activities, they do not, nowadays, even have time to play. Although the Secretary for Education is ‘unreliable’, we should not allow our children’s wish to do rope-skipping to become a distant dream.’

Letter to Hong Kong

I made a recording for RTHK programme ‘Letter to Hong Kong’. In my letter, I made six suggestions on our education system to relieve the pressure on teachers and students, including terminating and scaling-down those tasks which do not necessarily require to be done by teachers, abolishing TSA, organizing multi-agency coordination meetings and strengthening the manpower of social workers and counseling staff.

Replay (in English)

15 Mar 2016

Meeting of Subcommittee on Poverty of Legislative Council
Provision of a One-off Grant for School-related Expenses to Kindergarten Students

Representative of Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union
in Legislative Council,
Hon IP Kin-yuen
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