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Policy Address:

Policies on Education are devoid of Commendable Items

Dear Members,

As expected, the Policy Address published by Chief Executive Carrie LAM last Wednesday barely covers education: apart from improvements in terms of money and financial assistance, the Policy Address does not contain any structural improvements in policies and implementation, nor does it present any proposals for planning and forward-looking measures. As such, the Policy Address is one without depth and is rather disappointing.

I have earlier on presented to the Government some issues of great importance to the education sector such as establishing a salary scale for kindergarten teachers. As regards secondary schools, primary schools and special schools, the Government should continue to increase teacher-to-class ratios; improve staff establishment and tackle the problem of team instability caused by population fluctuations; streamline the curriculum; and deal with the increasingly complex teaching ecology and student problems. On post-secondary education, the Government should, in view of the prevailing ‘research favoured, teaching belittled’ atmosphere, increase the substantial employment of teaching staff in order to minimize the impacts on teaching of problems faced by ‘itinerant lecturers’ and ‘contract lecturers’ caused by the duration of contracts being short and the availability of work being unstable.

The Policy Address mentions strengthening pre-school rehabilitation services, launching an early intervention service pilot project, and strengthening after-school care services. The relevant sector has already reflected that while the new policy will increase the number of service places, it is, unfortunately, not accompanied by any corresponding support. For example, kindergarten teachers will become subjected to increased pressure if the number of Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCO) is not increased. The report also mentions relief measures such as increasing the Working Family Allowance and the Working-Hour Linked Household Allowance. While these measures will improve the situation of grassroots children, the Government should conduct a comprehensive review of its policy on financial support for students. What is of great concern to us is that no progress whatsoever is announced in the Policy Address about a salary scale for kindergarten teachers pledged by the Chief Executive. This will, it is feared, further aggravate the problem of loss of kindergarten teachers.

Relatively new measures announced are the introduction of fellowships/scholarships for local students admitted to designated taught postgraduate programmes and the introduction of an Enhancement and Start-up Grant Scheme to provide financial support for self-financing institutions interested in offering designated sub-degree or undergraduate programmes. I think these measures may ease the financial burden on students and institutions. However, there are many structural problems in the post-secondary sector. Increasing financial support alone may not be a good solution to the problems.

If you have any opinions, you are most welcome to send them to [email protected].

Policy Address: Policies on Education are devoid of Commendable Items
Personnel of EDB’s Curriculum Development Institute serving as Inspectors: Concern over the Government strengthening unnecessary control Indiscriminate arrests by the police suspected to be violating United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
On the wearing of facial covering: Letter sent to the Secretary for Education Snapshots Speeches

Personnel of EDB’s Curriculum Development Institute serving as Inspectors: Concern over the Government strengthening unnecessary control

The Government appointed quite a number of EDB’s Curriculum Development Institute officers responsible for Liberal Studies to also take up inspection duties. About this, I have reservations. I am worried that the Government will enhance unnecessary control over the subject of Liberal Studies.

Such a move on the part of the EDB is, I believe, in violation of the established policy set out in Education Commission Report No. 4 of 1990, that is, there is conflict between curriculum development and the assessment of teachers' performance through inspections. Such a move of EDB represents a regressive step for curriculum development and will weaken its professionalism. It is necessary that the Government explain in detail the rationale for the change.

In addition, worry over the development of Liberal Studies becoming subjected to political interference is expressed by 80% of the respondents in a survey conducted by PTU. Frontline teachers feel troubled by the current environment, including attacks on the subject of Liberal Studies launched by the pro-establishment camp. That Liberal Studies should remain a compulsory subject is the view of 77.4% of the teachers interviewed. It is, therefore, clear that maintaining the status of Liberal Studies as a core subject is the consensus of the education sector.

Indiscriminate arrests by the police suspected to be violating United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

During the period from the start of the ‘Anti-Extradition-to-China’ movement in June to 10 October, as many as 105 persons under the age of 16 were arrested and statistics show a rising trend. Some of them had been detained for more than 48 hours before they were brought to court. Furthermore, at least three children under the age of 18 were, in accordance with a Care and Protection Order applied for and granted by the court under the Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance possibly in connection with their participation in demonstrations, remanded in the custody of a children and juvenile home. A girl among them was remanded in custody for as long as 27 days.

Up to the time when the court announced their release, no charge had been laid against the three children. In other words, they had, for no good reasons, been detained. Not only were they separated from their family, they were deprived of an opportunity to go to school when the new school year started. This situation more or less reflects a suspected case of the police abusing Care and Protection Orders. This, coupled with the circumstances surrounding other arrest cases, more or less reflects that the police have violated these children’s rights to be educated, to be with their family and to express their opinions as provided for under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The above measures cast doubts on whether the police are making use of Care and Protection Orders as a means to intimidate children and young people.

Children are the future of society. Their voices and passionate concern for the world deserve our attention. At the moment, there is a voice disallowing them to express their opinions and advocating that the only thing they need to do is to pursue their studies. This is unacceptable. We are also concerned about the safety of teenagers in the current intense environment. Therefore, as representatives of the education sector, we hereby appeal to young people to, when expressing your views, choose to do so in a peaceful, rational and non-violent way. We also sincerely appeal to young people to, when expressing your views, avoid conflicts so as to ensure safety.

Expressing concern over serious violations of children's rights by the police: an open letter to Chief Executive Carrie LAM.

On the wearing of facial covering: Letter sent to the Secretary for Education

Since the start of the new school year, there have been successive outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease in kindergartens and primary schools in different districts. Some schools with confirmed cases of infection have been accused of recommending in their notices that students in the same class with infected children need not wear face masks, citing guidance from the Centre for Health Protection or citing, on their school websites, EDB’s advice that students should not wear face masks or in any other way conceal their faces both on campus and off campus. This has puzzled quite a number of schools and parents, making them wonder whether students should indeed wear face masks to prevent contracting diseases.

Recently, many schools and parents have expressed to me their concern over students getting infected bearing in mind that children are in weak in immunity and that there have been sporadic outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease on campus.

High Table Dinner at Swire Hall, HKU

To a High Table Dinner organized by the Swire Hall of the University of Hong Kong on 11 October, I was invited to share with students and speak on ‘How can university students become good citizens of Hong Kong?’. I was among the first batch of students staying at the Swire Hall. More than 30 years back, it was an era in which focusing on one’s studies was all what life was about. In those days, the meaning of ‘citizenship’ in our life was very vague and abstract. Following decades of development, we are now at a time when Hong Kong finds itself at the most critical moment since reunification. I hope that university students of this new generation will, in their own identity, create a future for Hong Kong.

Letter to Hong Kong

In an English RTHK radio programme called ‘Letter to Hong Kong’ in early October, I spoke on the topic ‘Steadfastly Upholding the Conscience of the Education Sector’. The crisis in the past few months has spread from society to secondary schools and primary schools, and even to families. In the programme, I reiterated that PTU had never called on secondary school students to launch class boycotts and that what we had suggested was that schools adopt a flexible approach and handle those taking part in class boycotts under the existing system of students taking leave, so as to avoid unnecessary conflicts. I also emphasized that peace and safety had all along been our primary concern and that underage students should stay far away from scenes where conflicts might occur.

Fellow workers who are interested may revisit the programme via the following link:

Letter To Hong Kong - Steadfastly Upholding the Conscience of the Education Sector

Overwhelming support for the motion that Mrs Carrie LAM resign as the Chancellor

At an Extraordinary General Meeting convened on 19 October 2019, the HKU Convocation discussed and voted on two motions proposed by the HKU Alumni Concern Group: (a) that Mrs Carrie LAM CHENG Yuet-Ngor resign as the Chancellor of The University of Hong Kong; and (b) that the university administration render assistance to HKU students who have been injured or arrested during the anti-extradition movement.

Both motions were passed by about 3,000 alumni present in person or by proxy with over 92% of the vote. Whilst the motions have no binding effect, I, as the convener of the HKU Alumni Concern Group, believe that it represents a robust and powerful force of public opinion that will motivate HKU to make a louder voice. I expect that the Convocation will submit to the university administration its views on the two resolutions. I also urge President and Vice-Chancellor Xiang ZHANG to seriously consider the voting results and meet with the HKU Alumni Concern Group and students as soon as possible.

Responding to Xinhua News Agency's comments on me and the PTU

Mainland official media, including the Xinhua News Agency, have recently targeted and commented on Hong Kong’s education sector, the PTU and me from time to time. Many of the comments were inaccurate, including those criticizing me for ‘blatantly expressing support for secondary school students in their promotion on campus of independence of Hong Kong’. The stance of PTU and mine have all along been clear: we do not support independence of Hong Kong, nor have we said anything in support of students’ promotion of Hong Kong’s independence. It is most disappointing that the official media should have made such unfounded allegations.

In addition, the Xinhua News Agency also accused PTU of conniving in organisations intent on creating chaos in Hong Kong inciting students to boycott classes in mid-August. As a matter of fact, PTU has never urged or incite students to boycott classes. On the contrary, we have, on many occasions, strongly urged students to, for the sake of their safety, stay far away from scenes where conflict may occur. This accusation by an official mainland agency, which followed a similar one in the People’s Daily, came despite several categorical denials having been made by us earlier. The repeated appearance of such unsubstantiated accusations is most regrettable. We have all along been opposed to violence, be it from the police or demonstrators. If the Central People’s Government or the central media oppose only violence on the part of demonstrators, and do not seriously examine or connive in violence meted out by the police, this stance and attitude will not be able to gain any recognition by the people of Hong Kong. I hope that the Central People’s Government and the central media will fairly handle this issue.

11 October 2019 Finance Committee
Sacrificing fairness for so-called ‘efficiency’ and incurring disasters for speed

14 October 2019 Finance Committee
Responding to CHAN Kin-por’s repeated remarks on ‘harvest period’

18 October 2019 House Committee: Special Meeting
Follow up on the attitude of the Chairman of the House Committee as an ex officio member of the Legislative Council Commission in dealing with the security issues of the Legislative Council

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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