- 諮詢稿將「專業性的教學工作」改為「教學專業的工作」，意味着工作的定義有別，可令教育同工感到困惑，例如有些學校會安排教學助理(Teacher Assistant)協助備課、搜集資料和製作簡報、批改學生試卷的選擇題或填充題部分，這些安排可能被指違反《守則》規定。此外，在工作繁重的情況下，教師難以決定自身的工作量，如何能對本身的教學質量負責？
- 建議﹕維持「專業性的教學工作」的描述。此外，「應對自己的教學質量負責」，應保持為獨立主條文，不應與另一條文合併。再者，建議加入政府和學校在尊重教師的專業自主和維護教育同工享有「工作與生活平衡」(work-life balance)前提下，教師對自己的教學質量負責。
12 . 強烈要求在獨立自主的教學專業議會或教師公會成立前，毋須制訂《實務指引》；按之前的經驗，《實務指引》內多個例子備受質疑和批評，涉侵犯教育同工的權利。其實可行的做法，是更新2002年8月由操守議會編印的《校長和教師怎樣提高專業操守及避免觸犯專業守則》，當中以最常見的投訴個案作為例子，讓教師有所警惕。
14. 應積極主動收集同工意見，建議舉辦更多的活動如問卷調查、焦點小組(focus group)及研討會等，讓更多同工有機會表達意見。
Submission to the Council on Professional Conduct in Education
by Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union on behalf of HKPTU NETs members
Response to the Consultation Draft of the revised Code for the
Education Profession of Hong Kong 31st July 2018
The Council on Professional Conduct in Education (the CPC) initiated an open consultation on the revision of the Code for the Education Profession of Hong Kong (the Code) on 1st June 2018 and held three different briefing cum consultation sessions on 23rd June 2018 and 29th June 2018. Unfortunately, the consultation sessions were announced to be conducted in Cantonese and therefore most of the native English-speaking teachers (NETs) were actually denied to understand, to enquire and to express the revised Code directly before the CPC members. In order to facilitate the NETs to learn more about the details of the proposed revised Code and express their views on the issue, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU) held a consultation session in English on 12th July 2018 and collected their opinions.
On behalf of the NETs who participated in HKPTU’s consultation session on 12th July 2018, we submit this document to the CPC to reflect the views of our NETs members. The first part of this document is the general comment of the consultation drafts of the Code and suggestions on improving the proposed revised Code. Particular problematic provisions of the proposed revised Code are highlighted in the second part together with the improvement proposals.
Part One – General comment and suggestions
1 Doubtful legal status of the Code
Although the CPC states that the Code regulates the behavior of individuals governed by the provisions of the Education Ordinance (Cap. 279) (the CPC Case Handling Procedures effective on 1st June 2018 paragraph 5.2.1 (c)), the Code has never been mentioned in the Education Ordinance. It is doubtful about the legal status of the Code as a set of criteria to cancel a teacher’s registration made by the Permanent Secretary for Education. The Code may have more power on individuals who work in aided schools because section 7.8.1 of the School Administration Guide suggests that the Code should be observed by the teaching staff. However, the School Administration Guide is only applicable to aided schools, the Code seems to have lower authority over teachers who work in private schools and school managers.
Besides, there is the issue of jurisdictions. Overseas excursions are common school activities in Hong Kong, but it is unclear if the Code can be applied beyond the territory of Hong Kong. For example, if a NET teaches his Hong Kong students in an overseas town and there may have conflicts of code of ethics between those two places.
If the CPC is intended to enforce the Code and regulate the behavior of education profession with the Code, the Code should be legalized and the Code has to be explicitly stipulated in the Education Ordinance. If the Code becomes a formal legal document, it has to state clearly of its jurisdiction and must be empowered with the legal status.
2 Disparities between the Chinese version and English version of the Code
After careful review of the consultation drafts of the revised Code, much disparities between the Chinese and English versions of the Code were identified. Here are some examples:
(Paragraph 2.1.8) In the Chinese version, members of the profession are asked to maintain the noble professional image and effective public relations by promoting public understanding of the professions (應不斷促進公眾對專業的認識，以維持崇高的專業形象及有效的公共關係。) While in the English version, members are asked to promote the highest possible image for the profession. There is a big difference between the literal meanings between “maintain” (維持) and “promote”, as well as the “noble professional” (崇高的專業) image and the “highest possible” image for the profession.
- (Paragraph 2.2.7) In the Chinese version, members of the profession are asked to encourage students to respect other members of the profession and encourage students not to make malicious remarks to other members of the profession(應鼓勵學生尊重老師，不作惡意批評。) (in fact, the provision carries ambiguity in the Chinese version as well, for it omits subject and object in the second clause of this provision) While in the English version, members are asked to encourage students to respect other members of the profession and to this end avoid unprofessional remarks (非專業批評) about professional colleagues. The meaning of unprofessional remarks is different from malicious remarks (惡意批評).
- (Paragraph 2.2.19) In the Chinese version, when members of the profession are performing their professional duties and learn that students are being abused, they have to report the case to the authority (在執行專業職務時若發現有學生被虐待，應向當局舉報。) In the English version, members are asked to report the case, as well as handling any case of child abuse when executing professional duties. Thus, in the English version, members of the profession shoulder extra responsibility of handling case of child abuse; and even if the victim is not one of their students, they have the obligation to report and handle the case.
The CPC need to address the issue of translation. Careful and detail examination of wordings and meanings in both versions is needed to avoid disparities.
3 Ambiguous terms adopted in the Code
There are many ambiguous terms in the Code, for example the term “behavioural norms” in paragraph 2.6.1. It is unclear which definition of a particular term is employed in the Code. The Code should have a glossary to show the definitions of these ambiguous terms. Without true understanding of the terms and content of the Code, it is difficult for members of the profession to observe the Code.
4 Conflicting ideas among provisions in the Code and case handling procedure
There are three chapters in the Code and the rights of a member of the profession listed out in the third chapter of the Code. The current consultation does not cover and review the third part of the Code, resulting in conflicts among provisions in the second part and third part of the Code. For instance, paragraph 3.2.9 of the Code ensures that members of the profession have the right to “state publicly personal views on matters affecting education”. However, paragraph 2.3.2 of the Code can inhibit a teacher to exercise his /her rights on expressing his/ her views publicly because he/ she is required to make a series of declarations before he/ she can make a public statement, and he/she can only express discontent on education policies and practices publicly after exhausting channels within the profession.
As both are key components of the Code, the rights and responsibilities of members of the profession should bear the same weight of importance in the eyes of the CPC. But the coverage of the current consultation and the case handling procedure of the CPC gives an opposite impression. Instead of empowering the education profession to advance and develop professionalism, the main purpose of the revised Code is to tighten the discipline of the educators. If the CPC aims to perfect the Code, the CPC should review and revise all chapters of the Code to avoid any conflicting provisions among different chapters of the Code. In addition, formal mechanism and procedure should be set up to deal with cases when educators’ rights are being violated.
5 Fail in addressing the core values and roles of the education profession
The CPC must state clearly in the Code about: first, an educator’s role in schools and in society; second, core values of the education profession. Only when these two cornerstones become clear, there can be a fair way to decide what behavior of an educator is due and proper.
6 Fail in addressing inclusive issue within the education field
According to the NETs expressed in the consultation session on 12th July 2018, they often feel isolated in the school because they are often excluded from the staff meetings due to language barrier. They feel the same kind of isolation in the current CPC’s consultation of the Code. They cannot understand why the CPC refused to have consultations sessions in English and think that the CPC does not welcome their participation. As the first step to address this inclusive issue, the CPC should upload English translation of the Council Resolution to the CPC website. In addition, the CPC members should enhance their awareness on the issue and realized that NETs from different countries have different cultures and social norms, especially when the terms “social norms” and “role model” are used in provisions of the Code.
7 Over control over private life
Without specifying the scope of applicability of the Code, the provisions of the Code become too far-reaching and unreasonable. For example, paragraph 2.2.1 requires an educator to take the education of his/ her students as his/ her primary duty. Since the provision does not limit its effect to an educator’s working hours, members of the profession are required to abandon their duty to their own children, parents and spouse to fulfill their primary duty to their students all the time. Unintended but serious consequence may take place because the CPC does not pay much attention to the details of the Code. In particular, there are more school management request the teachers to disclose their mobile phone number to parents.
8 Infeasible provisions of the Code
Not all the provisions in the Code are feasible. Here are some examples:
- (Paragraph 2.1.13) It is very demanding and unpractical to require educators to speak of their qualification (e.g. academic background and professional training) to speak, the capacity in which they are speaking; on whose behalf they are speaking and the association with any party or vested interested that may benefit from their speech, when every time they speak of their mind publicly. Not even the members of the CPC can do this every time when they speak publicly.
- (Paragraph 2.2.2.) It is unfeasible and unreasonable to require every educator to be responsible for the moral, intellectual, physical, social and aesthetic development of their students because some of our educators are trained to teach specific subjects and are assigned to teach according to the training they are given.
- (Paragraph 2.2.8) When our educators are often excluded from the decision-making process of most of the education policies, it is unreasonable to make our educators to take full responsibility for the teaching quality. Even if an educator knows that actions should be taken to improve the quality of teaching, he/ she may be forbidden to do anything. It is not fair to hold educators responsible to factors and situations that they cannot control.
The CPC should evaluate the feasibility of provisions in the Code and modified provisions that are difficult to observe in practice.
9 Educating the profession to observe the Code
Although the Code have been there for about 28 years, most of the NETs do not know the existence of such a Code. Most of them learnt about the Code for the first time, when the CPC conducted a consultation on the revision of the Code in 2016. When the revised Code is finalized after proper and wide consultation and discussion, seminars (in English and in Cantonese) should be held regularly to educate educators about the Code and how they can observe in practice.
Part Two – Problematic provisions of the proposed revised Code and suggestions
1 (Paragraph 2.1.2) He/she shall be mindful of the propriety of words and deeds and his/her conduct in order to serve as a role model for students. He/she shall avoid engaging or taking part in any work or activity that is detrimental to the image of the profession.
With this paragraph, teachers can be accused of taking part in activity that is detrimental to the image of profession and violating the Code, for example, if they are found buying Mark Six in their non-working hours. The scope of applicability of this paragraph should limit to teachers’ working hours when they are performing profession duties.
2 (Paragraph 2.1.4) He/she shall be honest and upright/ shall uphold honesty. He /she shall not accept gratuities, gifts or favours that might impair professional judgement.
NETs are employed under the EDB NET Scheme and are granted to have contract gratuity upon satisfactory completion of the full period of service. Using the word “gratuities” in this paragraph may cause confusion. In addition, with this paragraph, as an act of courtesy, such as accepting food from students in school X’mas party, or accepting drinks from school managers or colleagues, teachers may be being accused of violating the Code and risk their profession prospect. A better way to put this paragraph is: He/she shall abide by the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (Cap. 201) and be alerted to situation that might impair their professional judgement.
3 (Paragraph 2.1.6) He/she should strive to uphold the honour, dignity and ethics of the education profession and to foster unity and harmonious working relationships within the profession.
The term “harmonious” means “free from disagreement or dissent” (cited from Oxford Dictionary). This paragraph can be abused to oppress disagreements and alternative views, when disagreement and alternative views are often helpful in highlighting issues that have been overlooked. A better way to put this paragraph is: He/she shall strive to uphold the honour, dignity and ethics of the education profession and to foster unity and be respectful to other members within the profession.
4 (Paragraph 2.1.11) He/she shall endeavour to promote the understanding of and respect for different cultures, races, beliefs and lifestyles in order to enhance social harmony.
With reference to common usage under international norms, a better way to put this paragraph is: He/she should endeavour to promote the understanding of and respect for different cultures, races, beliefs and lifestyles in order to embrace social inclusion.
5 (Paragraph 2.1.13) He/she shall, when making any public statement in his/her capacity as a professional educationalist, state clearly, when appropriate, his/her qualification to make such statements; the capacity in which he/she is speaking; on whose behalf he/she is speaking; and the association with any party or vested interests that may benefit from such statements.
With reference to social workers’ guidelines on code of practice and doctors’ code of professional conduct, a better way to put this paragraph is: He/she should make clear in any public statements or when undertaking public activities whether he/ she is acting in a personal capacity or on behalf of a group or an organization. He/ she shall make declarations of interests when necessary.
6 (Paragraph 2.2.1) He/she shall regard the education of his/her students as his/her primary duty.
As discussed in part one of this document, the scope of this paragraph should limit to teachers’ working hours when they are performing profession duties.
7 (Paragraph 2.2.2) He/she shall regard the moral, intellectual, physical, social and aesthetic development of the students entrusted to his/her care as his/her personal responsibility.
As discussed in part one of this document, most teachers are trained to teach specific subjects and are assigned to teach according to the training they are given, instead of requiring individuals to hold personal responsibility for students’ all-round development. It should stress the importance of teamwork within the school and the profession, so that students can have all-round development. A better way to put this paragraph is: He/she should work together with other members of the profession for the moral, intellectual, physical, social and aesthetic development of the students entrusted to his/her care.
8 (Paragraph 2.2.3) He/she shall help students identify their own values and build up their self-respect.
This paragraph is confusing and can have a different interpretation from the Chinese version. The term“values”can be interpreted as“system of values”(價值觀) in English. But if it is the intention to illustrate an educator’s role in helping student to build up their self-respect with this paragraph, a more accurate translation should be “help students seek their own meanings of life and build up their self-respect.” As suggested by our NETs members, this paragraph can be modified as: He/she shall help students develop self-respect and respect for others.
9 (Paragraph 2.2.4) He/she shall encourage students to think independently and to form their own rational judgements based upon knowledge.
Rational judgement can sometimes be made without knowledge, choice making in a moral dilemma usually based upon personal belief rather than knowledge. A better way to put this paragraph is: He/she shall encourage students to think independently and to form their own rational judgements.
10 (Paragraph 2.2.5) He/she shall endeavour to nurture in his/her students a thirst for high standards of accomplishment.
In order to be line with the principle of being “fair and objective and cater for individual difference” as stated in the Code. This paragraph should be modified as “He/she shall endeavour to instill a desire within his/her students for personal achievement”.
11 (Paragraph 2.2.14) He/she shall not discriminate against any student on the basis of race, colour, sex, belief, religion, political opinion, family background, or any form of handicap, etc.
As suggested by our NETs members, this paragraph can be modified as: He/she shall not discriminate against any student on grounds of identity. This includes but does not limit to gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation and disability.
12 (Paragraph 2.2.19) He/she shall report and handle any case of child abuse uncovered when executing professional duties.
In order to eliminate discrepancies between Chinese and English version, the paragraph should be modified as: He/she shall report to authorities concerned, when he/ she suspects his/ her students are being abused. In addition, there should be clear guideline to tell educators to whom they should report to.
13 (Paragraph 2.2.21) He/she shall seek to establish confidence and trust grounded on mutual respect between himself/herself and his/her students and avoid developing inappropriate intimate relationships with students; under no circumstances shall he/she have sexual relationships, consensual or otherwise, with them.
The Code apply to individuals who registered under the Education Ordinance. If a registered teacher teaches in an adult education setting and his/her spouse is his/her student, the teacher may be accused of violating the Code. The CPC should consider such possibilities and make proper amendment, in particular, should limit the Code be applied to kindergarten, primary, secondary and special schools’ teachers only.
14 (Paragraph 2.2.22) He/she shall not divulge information about students unless disclosure serves a compelling professional purpose or is required by law.
Students often ask their teachers to be their referees when applying jobs or scholarships, student’s personal data will be disclosed in these occasions. In order to facilitate the process, the paragraph should be modified as: He/she shall not divulge information about students unless disclosure serves a compelling professional purpose, or is required by law, or consent from the students in question is obtained.
15 (Paragraph 2.3.1) He/she shall respectfully treat his/her colleagues as fellow professionals without discrimination on grounds of race, colour, sex, belief, religion, political opinion, nationality, status or position, etc.
As suggested by our NETs members, this paragraph can be modified as: He/she shall treat other colleagues respectfully and shall not discriminate against co-workers on grounds of identity. This includes but does not limit to gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation and disability.
16 (Paragraph 2.3.2) He/she shall, initially, express objections to administrative policies and practices, which he/she considers unfair and unjust, through channels within the profession.
As discussed in part one of this document, this paragraph is conflicting with provisions in chapter three of the Code. Instead of limiting an educator’s options to express his / her views, the Code should emphasise the importance of having effective mechanism to deal with feedbacks and the role of educators in seeking for the establishment of such a mechanism within the profession.
17 (Paragraph 2.3.5) He/she shall observe the principles of fairness and impartiality when dealing with complaints against colleagues. Anonymous complaints should not be accepted.
According to Education Bureau’s Guidelines for Handling School Complaints (revised on 30th May 2018), schools and teachers are required to follow up anonymous complaints under special circumstances (e.g. when there is sufficient evidence or when the case is serious or urgent). With this paragraph of the Code, educators are being put into a dilemma: risking their license to teach to comply with the EDB guidelines. The CPC should consider withdrawing “Anonymous complaints should not be accepted” from the paragraph. In addition, the CPC should suggest EDB to adopt a policy to protect whistle-blowers, so that no educators will be threatened or punished for expressing views and/or making complaints in good faith.
18 (Paragraph 2.3.12) He/she shall talk to colleagues whose professional behavior he/she finds objectionable in order to build trust within the profession.
There is a strange logic in this paragraph. If it is intended to encourage educators to have effective communications among one another, action should be taken within a realistic timeframe to achieve common goals, the CPC should state it clearly in the Code.
19 (Paragraph 2.3.16) He/she shall promote harmonious relations to avoid misunderstanding between colleagues; be objective and constructive when giving advice or guidance in a professional capacity.
The term “harmonious” means “free from disagreement or dissent” (cited from Oxford Dictionary). This paragraph can be abused to oppress disagreements and alternative views, when disagreement and alternative views are often helpful in highlighting issues that have been overlooked. A better way to put this paragraph is: He/she shall promote mutual respect relations to avoid misunderstanding between colleagues; be objective and constructive when giving advice or guidance in a professional capacity.
20 (Paragraph 2.4.1) He/she shall observe contractual commitments.
Contractual commitments should be observed by parties involved in the contract, including school managers, principals and teachers. It is not fair to require teachers to observe contractual commitments only by putting this requirement solely in the “Commitment to employers” section. This requirement should also be included in the “Commitment to colleagues” section, so that school managers and principals are reminded not to request teachers to fulfill unreasonable tasks, such as asking teachers to perform school duties before the commencement date of the contract.
21 (Paragraph 2.4.2) He/she shall not neglect his/her principal employment for the sake of personal interests.
It is a strange requirement that should be withdrawn. Other paragraphs in the Code and provision in the Employment Ordinance (Cap. 57) can deal with the cases when teachers neglect his /her job duties. It is unnecessary to insert another paragraph for the same end. In addition, this paragraph does not have specific scope of applicability. Hence, if teachers refuse to perform their duties beyond their office hours, they can be accused for violating the Code, even though it is unreasonable to demand teachers to work over time.
22 (Paragraph 2.5.4) He/she shall respect reasonable parental requests with regard to their children’s educational needs.
Sometimes students’ parents make reasonable requests with regard to their children’s educational needs, but it may not be feasible to meet their expectations for lack of resources and manpower. This paragraph should be modified as “He/she shall respect parental requests, where feasible, with regard to their children’s educational needs”.
23 (Paragraph 2.5.7) He/she shall assist parents in maintaining the physical and psychological well-being and protecting the academic rights of their children.
This paragraph is confusing because it may refer to the parents’ physical and psychological well-being rather than the child’s physical and psychological well-being. This paragraph should be modified as “He/she shall assist parents in maintaining the physical and psychological well-being of their children and protecting the academic rights of their children”.
24 (Paragraph 2.6.1) He/she shall show respect for the law and the behavioural norms acceptable to society as a whole.
The term “norms” can refer to something that most people do, but those behavior may not necessarily be lawful, for example jaywalking. The CPC should be aware of the cultural difference among the educators and the minority rights to modify this paragraph.
25 (Paragraph 2.6.8) He/she shall do his/her best to nurture in students the concepts of freedom, peace, equality, rationality and democracy, etc.
Our NETs members suggested to modified the paragraph as: He/she shall endeavour in students an understanding of and respect for individual liberty, equality, individual rights, democracy and civic responsibility.