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2018.1.29

 

Budget: fighting for improvements to the

establishment of teachers, etc.

Dear Members,

The education and political arenas have recently seen a number of major events, such as child abuse cases, disqualifications of Legislative Council members and the campus conflict at the Hong Kong Baptist University. They have aroused public concern. This newsletter includes my work relating to these events.

Equally deserving of our attention is the new Budget, which is scheduled to be published on 28 February. Together with other education groups, I had a meeting earlier on with Financial Secretary Paul CHAN Mo-po and proposed that expenditure on education be increased, mainly for use as follows:

  1. Further increase teacher-class ratios by 0.1 on the establishment of public sector schools in the academic year 2018/19
  2. Increase, in stages, the proportion of APSM/GM in primary and secondary schools, for example, immediately increase the proportion of APSMs to 80% in primary schools and GMs to 90% in secondary schools.
  3. Provide funding to start again a new phase of school-based ‘School Improvement Works Programme’
  4. Establish, in each kindergarten, at least one Co-ordinator post (at Senior Teacher level) to specifically co-ordinate the development of school-based curricula and a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) post to specifically co-ordinate the development of integrated education, both posts to be excluded from the 1:11 teacher-student ratio on the kindergarten’s establishment
  5. Allow SENCOs to independently become Senior APSMx/GMs (PSMs for primary schools and SGMs for secondary schools)
  6. Provide an annual subsidy of $30,000 to each student currently studying in self-financing subsidiary institutions of the eight universities.

Other expenditure areas suggested:

  1. Review the establishment and remuneration structures of principals and teachers of public sector primary schools including special education schools and increase the number of executive staff members
  2. Expedite the provision of lifts to schools, the existing policy being that only 5 to 8 lifts can be provided to schools per annum
  3. Provide all public sector primary schools with at least one Social Worker and one Teaching Assistant
  4. Increase resources to improve integration education in mainstream schools and in schools with special educational needs
  5. Reserve funding so as to provide, in the coming three years, an annual subsidy of $20,000 to each public sector secondary school, primary school and school with special educational needs, specifically for the purchase of suitable English and Chinese books
  6. Make injections into the Research Fund, so as to really bolster Hong Kong’s scientific research capabilities
  7. Conduct a comprehensive review of the application thresholds for the various kinds of existing financial assistance schemes for post-secondary students and of the upper limits of scholarships; abolish risk interest rates; reduce loan interest; and revise repayment methods so that monthly and quarterly repayment amounts can be adjusted based on graduates’ income.

I would appreciate any views that you may have on the Budget concerning expenditures on education. They could be emailed to me at [email protected]. I also hope that you will continue to keep a close watch on whether any of the candidates registered for the upcoming Legislative Council by-elections will be disqualified. This will have far-reaching impact on Hong Kong.

Budget: fighting for improvements to the establishment of teachers, etc.
Responding to conflict at the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) Responding to suspected child abuse cases and urging a review of the notification mechanism for class absences from kindergarten
Urging the Government to expedite the installation of lifts in schools Snapshots Speeches

Responding to conflict at the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU)


On the recent ‘Occupy Language Centre’ incident at HKBU triggered by students’ dissatisfaction over the ‘Putonghua graduation requirement’, I find unacceptable students’ impertinent behaviour and their use of abusive language vis-à-vis teaching staff during the protest period. Being adults, students should be held responsible for their own actions.

As regards the management side, their handling of the incident must be fair and proportionate. Saying that two of the students involved in the incident had posed a danger to staff, HKBU decided that they should be suspended immediately. However, since HKBU’s explanation for this decision was rather imprecise and since the students have subsequently offered a public apology, quite a number of people question whether HKBU’s decision is fair and proportionate.

Separately, one of the students is an intern in Guangzhou. His personal safety has been threatened. I hope that HKBU will care for him and provide assistance to him.

I would, finally, call on all parties concerned to exercise restraint so as to allow the incident to be dealt with fairly and impartially.

Responding to suspected child abuse cases and urging a review of the notification mechanism for class absences from kindergarten

There has been a succession of suspected child abuse cases. They invariably reflect the seriousness of child abuse and child negligence problems. To effectively tackle child abuse cases, my suggestions are set out below:

Increase the number of Teaching Assistants and Social Workers in primary schools

It is necessary to strengthen teacher training so as to enhance the awareness, experience and vigilance of front-line teachers. On top of this, the Government should strengthen a school’s ability in the handling of cases and increase its number of Teaching Assistants and Social Workers so as to further stabilize the school’s support team.

EDB should standardize absence notification mechanisms in secondary schools, primary schools and kindergartens 

Absences from school provide valuable opportunities for child abuse cases to be discovered. Under the existing notification arrangement, absences from secondary and primary schools are required to be notified to EDB within 7 days. However, the notification period is 30 days for kindergartens. Besides, the notification is not meant to look into and take follow-up actions on the case; rather it is simply to enable the Kindergarten Administration Unit to decide whether allocation of subsidy needs to be stopped. I would, therefore, urge the Government to review relevant guidelines and consider whether it is necessary to align kindergartens’ 30-day notification mechanism with the 7-day notification mechanism of secondary and primary schools. What is more important is that EDB should seriously follow up on kindergarten absence cases, as they may lead to the discovery of child abuse or other serious family problems requiring follow-up actions by social workers.

 

Urging the Government to expedite the installation of lifts in schools

Regarding barrier-free facilities in schools, earlier on I requested EDB to review its policy of limiting to five the number of lifts to be installed in schools per annum and to provide a report on the progress of lift installations in schools and a list of the schools involved. According to EDB’s latest reply, among the 46 schools approved during 2010 to 2018 to have barrier-free installations, no installation works have ever started in more than 30 schools. There are cases which were approved as early as 2010 but the facilities are still under construction. EDB points out that as procedural steps involved in lift installation works are numerous and complicated, the ‘shortest’ installation time is generally 4 to 5 years. Besides, as resources required are substantial, EDB can only approve a limited number of lift installation applications per year.

With a pace like this, it is not impossible that even if a school – having admitted students with physical disabilities – has its application for lift installation approved, the students will not be lucky enough to see lifts installed by the time they graduate. I would suggest that consideration be given to whether staff resources and financial resources – freed up from certain installation works being held up because of technical or other problems – could be re-deployed for the approval of extra applications. I would also suggest increasing resources in the Budget so as to expedite the installation of barrier-free facilities in schools.

Meeting with a delegation from the French National Assembly

LegislativeCouncil’s Parliamentary Liaison Subcommittee hosted a delegation from the French National Assembly before the Christmas holidays. The delegation leader, Mr Buon TAN – born in Cambodia and having emigrated to France for quite a number of years – is a linguistic genius: apart from being fluent in French and English, he can speak Cantonese, Putonghua and Chaozhou. It turns out that his ethnic origin is Puning.

Apart from ‘One Country, Two Systems’, the French Parliamentarians were also interested in Hong Kong’s education. It looks like that the problem of academic pressure on our children has become internationally renowned!

New Year Day Parade

On 1 January, I took part in the New Year Day Parade.

It is my sincere wish that the rule of law and justice are protected and my earnest prayer that freedom and democracy are not suppressed.

PTU members and Hong Kong people, let us all persevere!

Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior

Many of the disposable plastic tableware items used in our daily life are washed to and pollute our ocean. Arising from them are tiny particles referred to as ‘micro-plastic particles’. Through our food chain, they enter our body and affect our health.

Accompanied by representatives of Greenpeace, three Legislative Councillors and I boarded and toured the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior. The vessel, now visiting Hong Kong, will, together with a team from the Education University of Hong Kong, conduct an ocean plastic pollution investigation to find out the sources of plastic pollution.

From today onwards, let us cut down the use of plastic tableware and protect the environment. Let us do it, starting from you and me!

Visitors from Notre Dame College

Representatives from Notre Dame College visited Legislative Council on 19 January. As Notre Dame has a ‘Sign Bilingualism and Co-enrolment in Deaf Education Programme’, the visitors included deaf students, students who were hard of hearing and students with normal hearing. When I was explaining to the students the operation of the Legislative Council and briefing them on the procedure whereby the Finance Committee examines and approves appropriations, a sign language teacher was standing next to me and simultaneously conveying, by sign language, what I was talking about to those who had hearing difficulty.

The pedagogical concept of ‘Sign Bilingualism’ is a good example of the success of integration education. We will certainly work harder and strive for more Government support for integration education!

5 January 2018: meeting of the Panel on Education
Criteria for the re-construction of public schools

19 January 2018: meeting of the Finance Committee
Supporting the Government in granting a loan of $400 million for the development of courses at the Open University of Hong Kong

5 January 2018: meeting of the Panel on Education
The implementation of free quality kindergarten education must avoid imposing additional burden on teachers

Representative of Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union
in Legislative Council,
Hon IP Kin-yuen
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‧For enquiry and feedback, please email to Office of Legislative Councillor IP Kin-yuen : [email protected]
葉建源議員辦事處 Office of Legislative Councillor Ip Kin Yuen (Education Constituency)
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