PTU News Reporter
Two teachers were found publishing hate speech against police officers using their personal Facebook accounts. The Education Bureau recently issued two condemnation letters, warning that the Bureau might consider cancelling their teacher registration should it happen again. The PTU pointed out that, as inappropriate as the speech was, it was shared within the teachers’ private spheres and in no way affected their performance as professional teachers. The way the Education Bureau handled the matter was overly harsh.
The Education Bureau said it received and investigated 58 complaints about teachers’ misconduct from mid-June to mid-September in relation to “social events in recent months”. Five cases were not substantiated while two were found to be substantiated. Two condemnation letters was sent to the teachers in question, who were warned that the Bureau might consider cancelling their teacher registration according to the Education Ordinance should the misconduct happen again.
PTU Vice-President and lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said the discipline was overly harsh. The involved teachers only expressed their opinion using their private Facebook accounts. They had also taken back and apologised for their speech shortly afterwards. Their schools investigated into and handled the matter as well. “Such speech does not affect their teaching performance and is irrelevant to their professional work,’ said Ip, who maintained there were other ways for the Education Bureau to remind teachers.
Education Bureau should Make Standards Public to Allay Public Concerns
The PTU stated that the government should have and make public a clear set of standards in handling complaints. Teachers treat all students as equals. They do not favour or disfavour any students based on their parents’ occupation. Likewise, there should be no preferential treatment in the Education Bureau’s handling of complaints when police officers are involved. ‘The same standards should apply to all complaints, regardless of individuals’ political views,’ said Ip.
After the Education Bureau announced the two substantiated complaints, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying singled out a teacher on his Facebook page, publicly demanding the Education Bureau and the involved school to dismiss the teacher in question. At the same time, he publicly asked “citizens who are concerned with education” to set up a Lennon Wall outside the school to express their anger. Ip said in response that such an act would only add to the chaos and called for Leung to refrain from making comments and respect the system and the school. He added that external individuals should allow schools space and ensure a quiet education and working environment at schools.