The education sector has been faced with White Terror and pressurised since mid-2019. The recent controversy over a teacher at the Alliance Primary School in Kowloon Tong be de-registered for professional misconduct has drawn much attention from the society. Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU) Vice-President and lawyer Chong Yiu-kwong compared the incident to issuing a red card right away and said the discipline was disproportionate. De-registration is extremely harsh as it keeps the teacher from working in education and bans him from entering school campuses for life. Chong added that an official appeal or a judicial review is both time-consuming and costly, and requires support from the union as well as the general public.
De-Registration Is Disproportionate
Chong said the Education Bureau’s de-registration mechanism lacks transparency. He compared it against the disciplinary proceedings in place for social workers. ‘Take social workers as an example. To initiate a hearing, The Social Workers Registration Board will first announce the proceeding on their website and disclose the accusations. The hearings are also open to the public to ensure justice. But for teachers, the law does not guarantee transparency. The whole procedure is completely confidential and lacks transparency in comparison to social workers.
He said that the most unreasonable of the whole case is the disproportionate discipline. ‘Designing worksheets does not amount to promoting Hong Kong independence with a “premeditated plan” even if the Bureau judged that the relevant lesson plan is biased. Such punishment is overly severe and is only used to justify de-registration. Warnings are usually issued to professionals in case of mistakes. But, in this case, the red card was issued right away.’ He added that even fatal medical malpractices often result in suspension instead of permanent de-registration.
De-Registered Teachers Are Banned from School Campuses
Chong said de-registration is extensive at the moment. ‘The impact is huge. It is severe punishment enough to lose one’s job. In case of de-registration, teachers not only lose their jobs, but also lose their ability to make a living as they are banned from school campuses and can no longer work in education sector.’
‘Legislation is intended to protect children. De-registration is meant for serious crimes, such as physical abuse and sexual abuse due to concerns of children’s safety.’ Yet, in this case, de-registration is solely political. The involved teacher cannot even join parents’ day at school with his own children.
Chong said that the punishments for de-registration have to be reviewed in the long run. It would make much more sense to consider the discipline case by case. ‘If a teacher is de-registered, the Permanent Secretary for Education can apply for injunctions from the Court to ban the de-registered from entering the campus. That would be a start from reformation.
Appeal Is Time-Consuming
The procedure for an official appeal is lengthy and costly. It is difficult for teachers to face the pressure alone and support from the union is extremely crucial.
At the moment, the involved teacher must first file an appeal against the decision of de-registration to The Appeal Committee. If the original verdict is upheld, an appeal can be filed to the Chief Executive in the Executive Council of Hong Kong. A judicial review would be the last resort. Chong said the process is extremely lengthy. ‘An appeal is a lengthy process. It is hard to say how long it would take.’ The law only limits the period in which the appellant can file an appeal, but there is no constraints to the time the Appeal Committee and the Executive Council takes to make a decision.
Chong hopes that teachers will safeguard their profession and reach out to the union for assistance in case of needs. ‘It’s hard to avoid. Teachers should keep doing what they should do and professionally teach their students the best.’
Please donate to support the ‘HKPTU Legal and Emergency Assistance Fund’
- Account Name: Hong Kong Professional teachers’ Union
- Account No.: 788-006021-001 (Hang Seng Bank)
- FPS ID: 9042557
The donation will help with
1) Emergency financial expenses of affected teachers
2) fees for legal consultation
3) fees for lawsuits
More about the fund: www.hkptu.org/66759
Cheer for the de-registered teacher
All messages will be forwarded to the teacher.
Please fill out the form: www.hkptu.org/78930
It is trying times for the education sector. We call for all education professionals to look out for each other and show their support for affected principals and teachers around them.
Please contact HKPTU Rights & Complaints Department
(Tel.:2780 7337 / WhatsApp: 9763 0537)