Improving Education Bottom-Up, the HKPTU Participates in Education-Related Task Forces

PTU News Reporter

As a trade union of teachers and an education professional organization, the Hong Kong Teachers’ Professional Union had been providing suggestions and advices to the government on education policies over the years. With the intentions to push forward improvements in government policies concerning education, we strive to deliver the opinions of teachers to the government while education policies were being formulated. Over the years, we have met with government officials from time to time, and had established the Education Research Department in HKPTU in order to conduct in-depth research and to provide substantial suggestions concerning education policies. The HKPTU’s Legislative Councillors have also been actively bringing opinions and voices of teaching professionals into the Legislative Council, safeguarding education for teachers and for all citizens. Representatives of the HKPTU had also taken part in the work of a number of panels and task forces related to education policies established by the government, aiming to bring in the opinions of education professionals at the frontline in the process of policy making.

To handle education related matters, the government had established a number of panels and task forces. Representatives from the HKPTU had also taken part in the work of these panels and commissions, including the Education Commission and the Council on Professional Conduct in Education. Upon the Legislative Council’s approval to a 3.6 billion funding to the education sector last year, the government had since established respective task forces to review the “Eight Key Areas of Education”. These eight key areas include the professional developments of teachers, curriculum arrangements, vocational education, self-financed tertiary education, school-based management, parental education, and the UGC funding of academic research and students’ dormitories. Several task forces had already been established, with Mr. Fung Wai Wah, President of HKPTU appointed as a member of the Task Force on School-based Management Policy and Mr. Cheung Yui Fai appointed as member of the Task Force on Professional Developments of Teachers.

Reviewing the School-based Management system to safeguard the rights and interests of teachers and students

In an interview with the PTU News, Fung, President of the HKPTU,  revealed that the primary objective of the Task Force on School-based Management is to review the current implementation of the system and to look into methods of simplifying administrative work at school, alleviating the work pressure of teachers. Fung continued by pointing out that since the education reform, the increasingly complicated administrative work faced by teachers had brought about immense pressure, the education sector had been looking forward to a solution to the mounting pressure of teachers for years. Fung envisions the Task Force to work towards a common goal of coming up with feasible solutions in reducing administrative work faced by schools. The mismanagement of the Hing Tak School revealed the shortcomings of the school-based management system, Fung   expects the Task Force to conduct in-depth discussions on ways of improving the school-based management system, in particular the mechanism of returning complaints filed for schools to handle. Fung expects the Task Force to reinforce the role of teachers in school administration, safeguarding the rights of teachers and students.

Upgrading teaching professional education to degree level

Cheung, the Vice President of the HKPTU, the newly appointed member of the Task Force on Professional Developments of Teachers, as well as the vice-principal of a secondary school, stated that the Task Force will be conducting research on issues concerning staff entitlement matters that had aroused concern and awareness in the education sector over the years. The Task Force will also be looking for feasible mechanisms of establishing a teaching professionals’ qualifications framework, including qualifying teachers for their respective specialties at work, such as counselling and SEN support. The Task Force will also look into the staffing management at the managerial level of secondary, primary, and special education schools as well as establishing a timetable for the full implementation of upgrading all teaching professional education to degree level. Cheung stated that the above-mentioned are longstanding issues that had aroused concerns in the education sector, upgrading teaching professional education to degree level, alongside with demands to increase class-student ratio, are the most pressing demands of primary and secondary schools. Fung hopes that the Task Force will be able to push forward the implementation of upgrading professional education to degree level, hence resolving the issue of differential pay among similar employment.

Fung adds that, as the largest teachers’ union, the HKPTU has always been an important stakeholder in the process of drafting education policies. Fung hopes that the government will maintain an open-minded manner in the future when establishing education related task forces and panels, accepting opinions from different stakeholders, allowing representatives of teachers’ unions to participate. The HKPTU will also continue its work in voicing the opinions of the education sector through various means, ensuring the voices of the frontline teachers are heard by the government in the process of policy-making.