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2018.11.26

 

Urging the Government to retain Shine Skills Centre (Kwun Tong)

Dear Members,

School relocation is nothing new in Hong Kong. In the past, the Government would, together with a detailed plan, conduct consultations so as to enable the school, its teachers and students to have sufficient time and get prepared for transition. In the latest Policy Address, the Chief Executive mentions establishing a Civil Service College in Kwun Tong. The site for the College has subsequently been identified as where Shine Skills Centre (Kwun Tong) now stands and the Centre has already been notified to cease operation in 2021. While this decision has a profound impact on the Centre, it has, contrary to the usual practice, been taken without prior consultation. Worse still, there has been no clear relocation plan and the future operator will be selected through tendering in 2019. Whether the Centre will continue to be operated by the Vocational Training Council (VTC) is shrouded in uncertainty, which raises queries as to whether this move on the part of the Government amounts to ‘school-killing’.

For 50 years, Shine Skills Centre (Kwun Tong) has been serving as a school for students with disabilities, providing them with a range of vocational training programmes covering such industries as publishing, retailing, and catering. The Centre is equipped with classrooms/ workshops specific to individual programmes. Earlier on, I visited the Centre and witnessed students learning some simple work skills in the operation of, for example, cash registers, computers and printers, and even skills in bread baking! The value of Shine Skills Centre lies in its role in enabling those of its students who are capable to learn work skills and get familiarized with the working environment, with the ultimate aim of helping them to get fully employed.

Joint efforts by teachers and students to save Shine Skills Centre: A vague reply from the Government

At a ‘Hand in Hand – Save Shine Skills Centre’ rally jointly organized by staff of the Centre, PTU and several Legislative Councillors, some 800 students, alumni and parents came to demonstrate their support for the request that Shine Skill Centre (Kwun Tong) be allowed to continue its services in vocational training and evaluation. Perhaps in response to public opinion, the latest statement from Secretary for Labour and Welfare LAW Chi-kwong mentions that if VTC is willing to accept a new development model, Social Welfare Department will no longer need to find an operator through tendering and the provision of vocational training services for students with disabilities may again be entrusted to Shine Skills Centre.

Perhaps this is a development in the right direction. We hope that the authorities will conduct a dialogue with affected teachers and parents of Shine Skills Centre and come up with a mutually acceptable plan. Before consensus is reached, it is absolutely important that there be ‘No relocation’, ‘No dismantling’ and ‘No school-killing’ for Shine Skills Centre (Kwun Tong). If you have any suggestions, you are most welcome to email them to [email protected] .

Urging the Government to retain
Shine Skills Centre (Kwun Tong)

Think International School:
Following up on developments
Motion for a vote of thanks:
casting a vote of abstention
14-week maternity leave for teachers of subsidized schools:
detailed arrangements keenly awaited
Snapshots Speeches

Think International School: Following up on developments


Operating without registration secondary and primary school courses on the premises of Tsung Tsin Middle School, Think International School was earlier required by the Education Bureau to immediately stop school activities. On this matter, I met, on several occasions, with the school’s principal, teachers and parents, following which, together with some 40 parents of secondary and primary school students, I had a meeting with officials of the Education Bureau to exchange views and discuss solutions to the problem.

To the Education Bureau, parents expressed their concerns and worries about school activities being stopped and the resumption of classes. The Bureau mentioned that senior primary school students could transfer to the premises of Think International School in Boundary Street to continue their studies. However, it remained uncertain how to solve the problem of school campus and the problem of overcrowding of the teaching environment. We hope that the authorities can, soonest possible, come up with suitable and feasible solutions.

At a meeting with the principals and teachers of the two schools on 16 November, I witnessed the signing of employment contracts between Tsung Tsin Middle School and secondary school teachers from Think International School. The teachers were satisfied with the outcome.

Motion for a vote of thanks: casting a vote of abstention

The latest Policy Address has increased resources on education by a not inconsiderable amount. However, the Policy Address incorporates a project called ‘Lantau Tomorrow”, which has aroused public concern and discussions. Upon my suggestion, PTU conducted an opinion survey with its members. Of the 1,200 respondents, 80% supported the measures on education but 60% were opposed to the ‘Lantau Tomorrow’ project and more than 40% of all the respondents were ‘strongly opposed’ to the project.

Findings from the survey show that respondents’ views on the Policy Address were divided, with 32% considering it ‘satisfactory’, 41% ‘unsatisfactory’ and the rest being neutral. None of these stances exceeded 50%. Having regard to members’ views and in the light of the analysis of PTU’s Executive Committee, I felt obliged to cast a vote of abstention on the motion for a vote of thanks for the Policy Address.

I shall continue to adopt the principle of ‘Affirming what is Right and Criticizing what is Wrong’. I will affirm the things which the Government has done right. On those things which the Government has failed to do properly, I will urge the Government to do better in the future.

14-week maternity leave for teachers of subsidized schools:
detailed arrangements keenly awaited

Last month the Policy Address proposed that the statutory maternity leave be extended to 14 weeks and announced that, to set a good example, the Government would apply this extension to its female employees with immediate effect.

However, female employees in subvented organizations, including teachers in subsidized schools, do not enjoy the immediate application of the extension. PTU and I, therefore, wrote to the Government last month, urging the authorities to, soonest possible, arrange for teachers of subsidized schools to enjoy the same treatment. I also made this request in the Legislative Council. In a recent written reply, the Education Bureau indicates that the Bureau plans to implement the 14-week maternity leave in aided schools, direct subsidy scheme schools and caput schools and kindergartens and that the Bureau is considering concrete implementation arrangements and will shortly liaise with the education sector on implementation details, with a view to announcing relevant details before the end of the year.

Subsidized Primary School Council:
Attending the Council’s Annual General Meeting and Dignitaries’ Forum

Thanks to the invitation of the Subsidized Primary School Council (SPSC), I attended the Council’s Annual General Meeting and Dignitaries’ Forum yesterday. More than 200 principals attended, many of them being familiar faces. Apart from letting us know SPSC’s major tasks in the past year, the event provided a valuable opportunity for old friends to get together.

Dr Carrie Willis, Chairperson of the Committee on Professional Development of Teachers and Principals (COTAP), presented – within an hour – a useful review of Government’s work in and direction for the professional development of teachers and principals and their pursuit of excellence.

Szeto Wah Education Fund:
‘Good Students & Good Teachers’ Awards Ceremony

11 November saw the successful organisation of the 7th ‘Good Students &Good Teachers’ Awards Ceremony under the auspices of the Szeto Wah Education Fund. The ceremony was officiated by Reverend CHU Yiu-ming, with the Hon Alvin YEUNG Ngok-kiu and the Hon Michael TIEN Puk-sun as guests-of-honour presenting the awards.

The Szeto Wah Education Fund – established by PTU in 2011 – has, since 2012, been funding the ‘Good Students & Good Teachers’ Award to commend those students who have strived hard and overcome difficulties in achieving their learning targets and those teachers who evince care and love for students and have touching stories in teaching students. The Education Fund has, in the past seven years, commended a total of 53 good students and 43 good teachers, including those commended this year.

 

Munsang College: Motion to construct an assembly hall has eventually got the endorsement of
the Public Works Subcommittee

For 30 years Munsang College has been in lack of basic assembly facilities. This long-awaited works document eventually succeeded in clearing the second hurdle in the Public Works Subcommittee on 7 November. Though not a member of the Subcommittee, I specifically came and spoke in support of the motion to construct an assembly hall.

Witnessing the moment when the works document got endorsed were Munsang College’s supervisor, principal and more than 30 teachers and students as well as the Chairman of Munsang’s Parents-Teachers Association. I would like to, once again, convey my congratulations to Munsang. I hope that Munsang will have smooth sailing in overcoming the final hurdle: funding approval by the Finance Committee!

Visiting the libraries of ISF Academy

On 6 November, I visited ISF Academy’s libraries and would like to express my gratitude for the hospitality extended to me by the Academy’s teacher-librarian, Ms IP Kam-lin, who is the Chairperson of the Hong Kong Teacher-Librarians’ Association. Apart from showing me around the library for the Academy’s primary school students and that for secondary school students, she more importantly explained to me how the Academy incorporates reading in its school curricula so as to enable students to, during reading classes, get used to reading and enjoy reading.

20 November 2018 Panel on Welfare Services
Retain Shine Skills Centre and let it continue its vocational training for students with disabilities

19 November 2018 Panel on Health Services
Enhance the flu vaccination rate of school children

16 November 2018 Finance Committee
Financial support for students with financial needs to participate in life-wide learning activities for whole-person development lacks flexibility if it takes the form of a fund (Student Activities Support Fund)

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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