PTU News Reporter
On February 3, the Education Bureau (EDB) unexpectedly announced that after the Lunar New Year holiday, all teachers are required to test regularly for Covid-19 to allow the whole school to resume half-day face-to-face classes. Otherwise, only one-third of the students can go back to school. The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (HKPTU) conducted a survey with teachers and principals from primary and secondary schools, special schools as well as kindergartens afterwards and swiftly received 11,822 responses in about 18 hours, including 306 and 196 responses from principals and vice-principals correspondingly. The unprecedented replies reflected that the education sector was extremely concerned about the arrangement.
Over 90% of the respondents express their anger and say the EDB lacks justifications
According to the survey, as many as 10,967 respondents (92.8%) said the EDB’s decision was not well-founded. It raised questions about the EDB’s rationale for tying the number of students resuming classes to regular teacher testing. When asked whether the action of the EDB made the respondents angry, 90% answered yes, indicating the unreasonable decision of the EDB has already offended the education sector.
The EDB introduced such measures without explaining the procedures and criteria. The survey showed that 453 (90.2%) principals and vice-principals were expected to face administrative obstacles. Mr. IP Kin-yuen, the vice president of the HKPTU, understood that the measure has already received severe complaints from numerous school managements. The latter criticized the EDB for not considering the complications in implementing the scheme, and the procedures were very cumbersome. Although the EDB stated the test is not mandatory, the reality is schools and teachers are morally coerced by the responsibility of resuming classes. IP pointed out the measures have put the schools and teachers between a rock and a hard place; they were pressured and even ‘being put on the spot’.
EDB works behind closed doors and finally set off anger
The president of HKPTU, Dr. FUNG Wai-wah, said the findings were one-sided due to the lack of consultation with the education sector. In addition, it was short of scientific support and did not take into account the problems schools will face; such handling even showed no respect to schools and teachers. He criticized that the EDB has been working behind closed doors for a long time, and the result has detonated the anger of the education sector. FUNG urged the Secretary for Education, Mr. Kevin YEUNG Yun-hung, to immediately withdraw the plan and apologize to fellow principals and teachers, as well as to reflect on his mistakes and learn to consult the education sector extensively before implementing any policies in the future.
Shall not tie vaccination with class resumption
FUNG has also sent an open letter to YEUNG on March 10, urging the EDB to respect the free will of teachers and not to use any coercive or disguised compulsion to force teachers to vaccinate, such as tying teacher vaccinations with school resumption.
Press release on survey results: www.hkptu.org/85572
An Open letter from FUNG Wai-wah to Kevin YEUNG Yun-hung: www.hkptu.org/86627