PTU News Reporter
School commenced after an unusual summer, but the crisis caused by the amendment of the extradition bill shows no sign of mitigation in the fourth week of the new school year. Thanks to education professionals’ perseverance and commitment, students was able to enjoy a safe learning environment amidst the crisis. The PTU condemned the inappropriate pressure imposed on principals and teachers by external individuals’ patrols on the first day of school. All pressure imposed on the education sector must be immediately lifted to ensure room for professional education administration as well as peace on campus.
Successful School Commencement Shows Professionalism
As reported by media, students and alumni expressed their demands outside schools by chanting slogans, standing still in silence, and forming human chains across districts. All these activities were carried out in a peaceful manner. School administrations made corresponding arrangements with students’ welfare and kept education principles in mind. The mechanisms in handling school boycott, absences and students’ expression of opinion was effective. Education professionals showed their professional competence in supporting and counselling students.
Junius Ho and Concern Group must Stop Disturbing Schools
September is always the busiest month at school, external organisations formed to police school boycott repeatedly caused disturbance at schools. A concern group initiated by lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu not only wrote twice to more than a hundred schools demanding a response to school boycott, but also sent members to patrol, monitor, and film students who express their opinion on campus. He even singled out and questioned six schools for supporting school boycott. PTU President Fung Wai-wah said the concern group’s behaviour was outright political interference and all their actions should immediately stop. Schools should be allowed the room to handle school boycott in a professional and decent manner. Ho’s initiatives were a disgrace to the profession of education. The PTU received complaints from schools saying that they were inquired and forced to respond to school boycotts. Some individuals patrolled at school campuses. These activities caused schools insurmountable stress. The PTU conducted a survey on this matter earlier and found out nearly 87.4 per cent of respondent teachers felt political pressure from the government and the Education Bureau. 39.2 per cent respondents actively expressed lawmaker Junius Ho was the root of the pressure.
PTU condemns DAB’s suggestion to form a council to monitor teachers
Throughout the extradition bill crisis, the establishment had been placing the blame on the education sector, accusing teachers of inciting students to protest. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) and a group of police officers’ family members met with three accountable bureau secretaries and presented multiple demands, including the establishment of a council that polices teachers and reports to the Education Bureau, which should then punish and discipline teachers. They also demanded setting up video and voice recording equipment in classrooms. The PTU strongly condemned the proposal as it was ignorant of the education sector’s situation and overrode the profession of education with politics. It was also an attempt to shift the blame for the extradition bill crisis onto the education sector.
Police brutality spreads to campus and injures students
There were incidents in which police officers used excessive force against students despite largely smooth operation at schools. On September 3rd, the police arrived at a school in Tai Po where students gathered outside the campus. Police officers suddenly charged at and tackled a student, who then fell to the ground, was injured, and was hospitalised. Such behaviour of the police force was unacceptable. The PTU emphasised the police force must show restraint in enforcement and avoid all forms of violence against students. The PTU also reiterated the crisis was caused by Carrie Lam and her administration’s dereliction of duty. The blame must not be shifted onto the education sector. Principals, teachers, and students must not become scapegoats. All sectors of the community should immediately stop pressurising the education sector so as to ensure room for professional education administration as well as peace on campus.