During the election campaign for the Chief Executive, CY proposed six key policy areas to be addressed in his election platform. In late June of this year a report was published on his work where the progress of the policies implementation was summarised. CY claimed that his government had achieved significant success in different policy areas. He even stressed that his government would not be complacent, and should not be complacent.
15-year Free Education Further Delayed
In early July of this year, we conducted an automated telephone survey for a week to collect views of our colleagues towards the work of CY, and finally 1032 respondents from different sectors of the education field were successfully interviewed. The survey showed that 63% of the respondents were “disatisfied” and “very disatified” with the educational policies implemented by CY. The proportion of the teachers of secondary schools expressing dissatisfaction was 65%, that is 2 out of 3 teachers, which is the highest percentage among all sectors.
Certainly CY’s pledge on education in his election platform was addressing the very most significant issues facing our field. After one year, however, only 17% of the respondents “agreed” that he was realising his pledge on education, while 62% of the respondents “disagreed” or “very much disagreed” on it. The percentage of the teachers of kindergarten expressing disagreement has reached 72%, which is the highest among all sectors, probably due to the fact that the implementation of the policy of 15-year free education has been further delayed, and a commensurate remuneration system for the early childhood education sector has not yet been substantially established.
Much Worse Than A Sunset Government
Education was confronted with severe difficulties under the leadership of Donald Tsang. As the predecessor of this sunset government, CY should be driven by great ideas and long-term mission to innovate the field of education in his first governing year. However, not only has he not improved any policies, but also has he even gone against his pledge of his election platform, which would be best elaborated by the fact that he has so far done nothing for the implementation of small-class teaching in secondary schools and the increase of the number of publicly-funded university places, not to mention the realization of 15-year free education. On the contrary, his proposal was not what we wanted, such as the injection of $480 million into the Government Scholarship Fund for outstanding local students to take degree courses or teacher training programmes abroad. In the survey, around 40% of the respondents showed that the education policies of CY were even worse than that of Tsang, and only below 15% of the respondents thought that of CY was better. From this result we can even conclude that CY’s education policies were even worse than that of a sunset government, according to our teachers.
In fact, CY’s emphasis on the significance of education was only a lip service, as the expenditure on education was not increased but reduced from 71.2 billion in the revised Budget of last year to 64.5 billion of this financial year, a drop by more than 10%. And this was the first budget cut on education since the return of sovereignty! Resources on education field are always lacking in Hong Kong, and the reduction of expenditures would even aggravate the current difficulties. The final victims would not only be schools and teachers, but also parents and school children.
Pledges Not Yet Met
When reviewing all CY’s policy platform and his work so far, we found that nothing has been addressed in all key educational issues. None of his pledge on education has been realized. This would also reflect his low governing ability, where the Bureau paid no attention to his proposal, and therefore his pledge on education cannot be met in the policy level. When making policies, the Bureau is turning a deaf ear to the pleas of the people, which has finally undermined its legitimacy. Expectedly the government can only tread lightly on when implementing her policies in the future.