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Policy Address: We welcome the policies on education but will watch out for implementation details

Dear Members,

It was a great honour to be elected on 11 October Chairman of the Panel on Education of the Legislative Council for the new Legislative Council year. I will uphold the spirit of ‘professionalism’ and ‘impartiality’. With support from all quarters, I hope to do a good job as Chairman.

The day before yesterday, Chief Executive Carrie LAM published the latest Policy Address. Of its education policies we have a positive evaluation. Most importantly, she has responded to the education sector’s aspirations over the years: all teaching posts in secondary/primary schools will become pegged at the GM/APSM level; school administration will be strengthened; research funding for universities will be substantially increased; new tobacco products are planned to be comprehensively banned …. All these are the achievements of sustained efforts of the education sector both within and outside the Legislative Council. Even though the journey has been long and arduous, it is gratifying that our efforts have eventually been rewarded with positive responses.

Having said that, we should, however, be cautious, bearing in mind, as the saying goes, ‘The devil is in the details’. The authorities should, soonest possible, clarify implementation details For example, failure to synchronize the pegging of all teaching posts of primary schools at the APSM level with an increase in the number of middle management posts would engender management confusion. Has the Government already planned to synchronize the two? The ‘Pilot Scheme on Social Work Service for Pre-primary Institutions’ provides another example: how many kindergarten students are to be served by a social worker? At a time when we are increasing resources for integration education, is it not even more deserving to retain the ‘supplementary plan’ for primary schools so as to enable headmasters to have access to what is needed? ... Each and every detail is pivotal and must be properly considered and clearly delineated. Otherwise, well-intentioned policies may end up in failures.

There are still quite a number of important items on which the Policy Address is completely silent such as a salary structure for kindergarten teachers, further improvements of teacher-to-class ratios in secondary and primary schools and measures to alleviate pressure on students. All these gaps should be filled as soon as possible.

On 2 November, I shall chair a meeting of the Panel on Education to discuss the education policies in the Policy Address. This will be followed by a 3-day debate on the entire Policy Address by the Legislative Council starting from 7 November. If you have any suggestions, you are most welcome to forward them to [email protected].

Policy Address: We welcome the policies on education but will watch out for implementation details
Pegging primary school teaching posts at the APSM level must be synchronized with an enhancement of middle management manpower Sharing views on student admission to universities via Non-JUPAS
‘Special-matter-special-handling’ for typhoon subsidies Snapshots Speeches

Pegging primary school teaching posts at the APSM level must be synchronized with an enhancement of middle management manpower

The latest Policy Address announces that teaching posts in secondary/primary schools will, all in one go, starting from 2019/20, become pegged at the GM/APSM level. Welcoming the direction of this policy, we urged, at a press conference held on 28 October, the Government to simultaneously enhance middle management manpower in primary schools so as to enable the policy to be more effectively implemented. We have the following recommendations:

When pegging primary school teaching posts at the APSM level, the Government must simultaneously increase the number of middle management posts in public sector primary schools and adjust the proportion of middle management personnel in primary schools.

The calculation method should be in line with that in secondary schools, i.e. the number of middle management posts should be pegged to the total number of teaching posts. The number and proportion of middle management posts in primary schools should be increased simultaneously so as to enable teachers responsible for middle management to have a reasonable rank and remuneration.

The establishment of middle management staff in the next academic year can be improved to 35% of the total number of teachers. For example, for primary schools with 24 classes, the number of middle management staff members can be increased from the current level of 8 to 14 (including 2 deputy headmasters). In the long run, the proportion should be close to that of secondary schools and be improved to 40% of the total number of teachers.

Sharing views on student admission to universities via Non-JUPAS

Upon the invitation of the Hong Kong Pediatric Society and the Hong Kong Pediatric Foundation, I spoke at the ‘Professional Forum on Child Health 2018’ held on 23 October and had a useful exchange of views with Dr LEUNG Man-kit, Professor SIN Kuen-fung and participants on the floor on the problem of student admission to universities via the Non-JUPAS route. It was a rewarding evening.

As I have pointed out earlier, it is less demanding and is much easier to obtain high scores in non-local-curriculum examinations than in HKDSE. The percentage of Hong Kong students achieving the top grade in a certain non-local-curriculum examination is as high as 18.5 times the percentage of Hong Kong students achieving the top grade in HKDSE!

As universities do not have a clear and transparent conversion system between the scores of different examinations, I am concerned that the current practice runs counter to the spirit and principle of ‘admissions based on merit’ and causes serious social injustice. The authorities must squarely tackle this problem.

‘Special-matter-special-handling’ for typhoon subsidies

Immediately after the attack of Super Typhoon Mangkhut last month, PTU collected views from the education sector and urged the Government to, on a ‘special-matter-special-handling’ basis, issue to secondary schools, primary schools and kindergartens a one-off typhoon subsidy to fully cover actual expenses incurred by schools and kindergartens.

Subsequently, the Education Bureau announced on 27 September that subsidies would be given to schools and kindergartens but the subsidy for a secondary school and a primary school was limited to $150,000, and that for a kindergarten $50,000 and its use was confined to such items as standard facilities and equipment. In view of the severity of the havoc wrought by the natural disaster, the subsidy was patently inadequate to cover maintenance expenses. Schools have to resort to using their reserves, which means resources that can be used on students being curtailed.

We would urge the Education Bureau to, when issuing typhoon subsidies, on a 100%-commitment basis, make sure that the subsidy is sufficient to fully cover the actual expenses incurred and to simplify the application procedure so as to obviate the need for schools to deploy resources earmarked for teaching purposes to cover repair expenses.

Visiting Ebenezer School

On 16 October, I visited Ebenezer School and Ebenezer New Hope School in Pokfulam. During the tour of school premises and facilities, what struck me most was a computer lesson in which students typed out right on the spot ‘Welcome to Ebenezer School" on the computer and explained to me the operation of Braille display machines and word readers.

A graduate by the name Shirley also introduced me to the ‘Partnership Assistance Scheme’, which is an employment service designed for those who are visually impaired. I would like to thank the school and the students for their hospitality and for giving me a better understanding of the learning needs and employment prospects of the visually impaired.

Visiting HKFYG Lee Shau Kee Primary School

On 8 October, I visited Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups Lee Shau Kee Primary School and would like to express my gratitude to the Headmistress, Dr TSE Wai-lok, for her kind hospitality. Apart from briefing me on the work of the school and introducing its facilities including the murals of the school's comprehensive gallery and 3D laser cutting machines of its CAME laboratory, Dr TSE also provided a detailed description of the characteristics of the school's curriculum and shared with me the school’s valuable experience in implementing self-directed learning and exploratory learning as well as its fewer-drills-and-less-homework approach.

Visiting ‘Digital Dunhuang: The Story of Heaven and Earth’ Exhibition

Upon the invitation of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the Panel on Home Affairs of the Legislative Council visited the ‘Digital Dunhuang: The Story of Heaven and Earth’ Exhibition at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. With more than 100 exhibits, the focus of attention was on the murals and statues of Dunhuang grottoes.

While I have been to Dunhuang before and have a little understanding of the art of grottoes, the visit to the Exhibition was a special experience. The Exhibition, deploying virtual reality and image fusion technology, enabled visitors to feel as if they were actually touring the grottoes.

Legislative Council delegation to the UK

Together with nine cross-party legislators, I had a 5-day parliamentary visit to the UK, covering the UK Parliament in London and the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The purpose of the visit was to establish and strengthen ties with the UK Parliament and the Scottish Parliament and to enable their members to have a good grasp of the latest developments in Hong Kong. The delegation also learned how the two Parliaments deal with various procedural matters that often come up at meetings. It was a rewarding visit.

25 October 2018 Legislative Council meeting
Teachers should be able to enjoy equal treatment in respect of paternity leave and maternity leave arrangements

12 October 2018 Finance Committee
Expressing concern over the Government applying once again for approval to inject funds into the Gifted Education Foundation and over the way of appropriating funds for gifted education

11 October 2018 Panel on Constitutional Affairs
Suggesting that the Panel on Constitutional Affairs discuss freedom of the press and human rights education

Representative of Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union
in Legislative Council,
Hon IP Kin-yuen
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葉建源議員辦事處 Office of Legislative Councillor Ip Kin Yuen (Education Constituency)
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