Please do not reply to this message.
If you cannot see this message properly, please click here
2019.12.24

Immediately stop spreading white terror
in the education sector

Dear Members,

 

EDB administers speech crimes and infringes without reasons teachers' personal freedom of speech

Among the complaints involving teachers' professional conduct in recent social events, about 30 cases have, as revealed by the Education Bureau (EDB), been initially established. EDB will consider meting out such punitive measures as issuing warnings and reprimands to teachers involved and even revoking their registration. However, HKPTU and my office have, since August this year, received more than 20 cases of teachers seeking help, 17 of which involved complaints to EDB based on teachers' remarks on social platforms. Among them, 9 cases have been ruled as involving professional misconduct. To our surprise, EDB has accepted anonymous complaints, most of which involved nothing but teachers expressing, in a private domain, their personal feelings. Besides, most of their posts were limited to circulation among friends. During the process of investigation up to the making of rulings, EDB has seriously violated procedural justice. Playing up these private remarks, EDB considers them as professional misconduct and states that teachers involved may be subject to de-registration, thus spreading serious white terror in the education sector. Any complaints against teachers must, we believe, be handled in a fair and equitable manner. We are strongly opposed to EDB's current practice of sentencing people based on their speech.

The way of investigation violates procedural justice

Among the complaint cases, 5 involved EDB conducting investigations only indirectly, i.e. carrying out investigations through schools and without directly notifying the teachers involved nor providing them with relevant information. It was not until EDB wanted to tell teachers concerned that they had been ruled to have committed professional misconduct that EDB made their first contact with the teachers involved. Even then, teachers were not given any concrete reasons leading to the rulings of professional misconduct. The rulings had been made in a very hasty manner. EDB's approach was a serious hindrance to teachers having access to the contents of complaints lodged against them for making self-defence, and a failure on the part of EDB in fulfilling its responsibility for notifying, soonest possible, teachers concerned of complaints having been lodged against them. It was not until EDB had ruled that teachers complained against had violated professional conduct that EDB made their first contact with teachers, thus unreasonably depriving them of their right to self-defence.

Furthermore, when teachers complained against took the initiative and asked EDB to let them know the nature, objectives, procedures and consequences of investigations, the only answer given to them was that if a complaint was, in the light of all relevant information, found to be established, EDB would, in accordance with established procedures and practices, take appropriate follow-up actions. However, EDB did not clarify what the procedures and practices were, nor did it provide any concrete details.

The cases in respect of which teachers sought our help were invariably 'anonymous complaints'. EDB failed to say whether it had ascertained the identity of the complainants, whether the complaints were based on accurate information, or whether EDB had effectively verified and established the complainants as bhonest and reliable. Without such elements having been ascertained, EDB rashly conducted investigations and even meted out punishments. This is extremely unfair to the parties complained against. We also query whether EDB has clear and non-discriminatory guidelines on the handling of such complaints.

Our stance and requests

We urge EDB to stop hastily initiating investigation cases involving teachers' remarks and snapshots on private social platforms. Doing so violates teachers' personal privacy. EDB should not accept information suspected to have been obtained by illegal means as a basis for accusing teachers of professional misconduct. Such investigations must be discontinued and rulings arising therefrom quashed.

For any disciplinary issues involving teachers, hearings should be arranged and teachers should be allowed to be accompanied by union representatives or lawyers. EDB should also provide teaches involved with complainants' identity so as to enable teachers to know whether the information in a complaint has been obtained through illegal means.

EDB should, in respect of a complaint, consider the adjudication of the Council on Professional Conduct (CPC) before making a final decision. The Government should also seriously consider the aspiration of the education sector over the years for the establishment of a statutory Teaching Professional Council as soon as possible so that the education sector can, through such a statutory body, deal with teachers' professional qualifications to teach and professional conduct and take responsibility for matters ranging from levels of professionalism to training and disciplinary investigations.

Immediately stop spreading
white terror in the education sector

First experience with
nasal spray vaccination
More than 50% of survey respondents believe that the Government often
allows 'politics overriding education'
Government defeated in
a lawsuit against anti-mask law
Snapshots Speeches

First experience with nasal spray vaccination

Starting this year, the Government has regularised the Seasonal Influenza Vaccination School Outreach Programme for primary schools, which is expected to enhance the seasonal influenza vaccination uptake among school children. Regarding the effectiveness of different vaccination methods, I had earlier on visited primary schools and kindergartens to understand the operation of injection vaccination. Then, on December 18, I followed Dr. IP Kai-ming (Clinical Associate Professor, School of Public Health, HKU) and his team to St Anthony's School to learn on the spot what made nasal spray vaccination different from injection vaccination. According to Dr IP's professional explanation (for which many thanks), nasal spray vaccine and injectable vaccine are similar in efficacy. While the cost of the former is more than double that of the latter, the former has these advantages: it is simpler to use and children's fear of vaccination is much less, which means that much time is saved in the vaccination process and in soothing children's emotions. In addition to providing two types of vaccination for schools to choose from, Dr IPbs team will collect in-school vaccination data for two years and then conduct an in-depth analysis of school children's vaccination in different places and compare the effectiveness of the two types of vaccination, with a view to strengthening relevant influenza control work.

This year is the second year in which St Anthony's School has arranged group vaccination for students, and has continued to choose nasal spray vaccination. From the experience of last year, students were less infected and fewer students were absent after vaccination. Hence, students and parents have become more confident and studentsb vaccination rate has increased from 50% last year to 70% this year.

More than 50% of survey respondents believe that the Government often allows bpolitics overriding educationb

The programme entitled ‘We HongKongers’, which allows citizens to set questions themselves for public opinion surveys and which is operated by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI), announced on 10 December its findings on this question: After months of unrest over the Anti-Extradition Bill, how frequently or infrequently do you think the government would override professional considerations by political concerns when formulating or implementing education policies in the future?
According to the results, 56.1% of the respondents thought that political concerns ‘very frequently or quite frequently’ overrode professional considerations, which is, I believe, a very serious problem. At a press conference earlier on, the Chief Executive pointed out that students constituted about 40% of the people arrested during the anti-extradition movement and so she asked EDB to seriously follow up on cases of teachers breaching regulations and cases of teachers being arrested. The Chief Executive might imply that those students who were arrested could have been influenced by their teachers. I believe, however, that the entire movement is society-wide and has stemmed from a series of government policy blunders and police violence, instead of any actions on the part of teachers.

Students arrested came from more than 300 secondary schools, and there are a total of only more than 400 secondary schools in Hong Kong. This is a telling reflection that the problem is not due to the influence of individual teachers. The Chief Executive should, therefore, not try and find ‘scapegoats’. CHUNG Ting-yiu, CEO of the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute (HKPORI), has pointed out that according to his understanding, students from traditional leftist schools were among those arrested. He does not believe that the problem has stemmed from the education system.

Government defeated in a lawsuit against anti-mask law

Invoking the power under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, the Government made the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation, which is essentially an anti-mask law, on 4 October this year. I and other Legislative Council members of the pro-democracy camp believe that the Regulation does not contribute towards resolving social conflicts in Hong Kong and that it may even provoke more serious public anger and conflicts, bearing in mind that the Regulation was made in a way which bypassed the formal legislative procedure. In addition, under the guise of the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation, the Government may use the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to further infringe on the existing rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people through such measures as prolonged detention, property confiscation, and restrictions on entering and leaving Hong Kong. Once such a precedent is established, the damage would be even more serious than that arising from amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance.

The making of the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation by the Government invoking the power under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance was immediately greeted with a number of challenges in court, including a judicial review initiated by 24 Legislative Council Members of the pro-democracy camp and funded by public donation. Our arguments in the judicial review included (a) that the Emergency Regulations Ordinance violates the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and should have been abolished; (b) that the restriction that Regulations established under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance can only be abolished by the Chief Executive violates the duties and powers of the Legislative Council to establish and abolish laws as provided for under Article 73 of the Basic Law; and (c) that the power for police officers to require members of the public to take off their face masks has all along been available to the police and hence there is no need to provide such power through an extra piece of legislation.

The Government's application for a temporary validity order and its application for a temporary suspension order were both rejected by the Court of Appeal of the High Court on 10 December this year. Simply put, the Government has been defeated, an outcome welcomed by all Legislative Council Members of the pro-democracy camp. We would once again call on the Government to abandon its attempts to appeal so as to avoid making yet another blunder.

The Professional Guild launched ‘Voters Registration Form-filling Tool’

The pro-democracy camp has all along been striving for the implementation of universal suffrage for the election of the Chief Executive and universal suffrage for the election of Legislative Council Members, with the eventual abolition of functional constituencies (FCs). Members of The Professional Guild come from FCs. For us to advocate the abolition of FCs seems contradictory. But, it is exactly because of our aim to abolish FCs in the future, it is all the more important for us to, right now, do a good job in our election under FCs, so as to enable us to have more seats under FCs for the very purpose of creating a more favourable environment in which to strive for a better political reform in the future.

The Professional Guild has launched a tool called bVoter Registration Form-filling Toolb (https://hk2020.vote/). I hope that teachers will initiate and encourage voter registration.

Attending the 30th anniversary of the formation of PTU's Honourable Members Group

Thirty years ago, some passionate members of PTUbs Executive Committee and retired teachers formed a group to organize events and gatherings for honourable members. With the lapse of 30 years, membership has very much expanded and the types of activities broadened. Last week I was invited to participate in the 30th anniversary of the Honourable Members Group. The vitality of members was keenly felt. I wish the Group longevity and members happiness.

Offering congratulations to The Open University of Hong Kong on its 30th anniversary

Starting as a professional training college providing distance-based teaching courses at that time, The Open University of Hong Kong has developed into a comprehensive university today and has realized many dreams, thanks to the dedicated efforts of its staff and the support of community leaders. This year marks the universitybs 30th anniversary, on which I offer my sincere congratulations. I wish The Open University of Hong Kong success in scaling new heights of excellence and making even greater achievements.

Attending the Jubilee Conference of the Hong Kong Primary Education Research Association

Thanks to the Associationbs invitation, I was able to listen to and benefit from the splendid speeches and experience sharing given by renowned scholars and principals, covering a wide range of topics, ranging from the health of school children to the practice of whole-person education, teacher professionalism and school-based management. It was a privilege to be able to participate in such a high-quality education seminar. I benefitted much from it.

16 December 2019: Panel on Public Service
Expressing concern over the situation of EDB employing Teaching Assistants and others as non-civil servant contract staff

6 December 2019: Panel on Education
Requiring the submission of teaching materials such as worksheets for screening is impractical

29 November 2019: Finance Committee
Day school student allowance should be extended to pre-school children and full-time students of post-secondary institutions

Representative of Hong Kong Professional Teachersb Union
in Legislative Council,
Hon IP Kin-yuen
HON IP KIN YUEN Newsletter :
Oct 2018Nov 2018Jan 2019Mar 2019Apr 2019May 2019June 2019Jul-Aug 2019Sep019Oct2019Nov 2019
‧For enquiry and feedback, please email to Office of Legislative Councillor IP Kin-yuen
Office of Legislative Councillor Ip Kin Yuen (Education Constituency)
Corresponding Address: Room 919, Legislative Council Complex, 1 Legislative Council Road, Central, Hong Kong
Tel.: 3468-7222  Website: http://www.ipkinyuen.org.hk Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ipkinyuen