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LCQ5: Teachers' employment

     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Man-kwong and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (February 24):


     Recently, I have received complaints from surplus teachers that even though they are "registered teachers" who have undergone teacher training and have ample teaching experience, they have encountered great difficulties in securing a teaching post as classes are being reduced in both primary and secondary schools due to the dwindling number of school-aged children in recent years; yet, the Education Bureau ("EDB") has, at the same time, permitted university graduates without any teacher training to be employed as "permitted teachers" by schools.  Such surplus teachers are of the view that at a time when the number of classes is being reduced, the authorities' arrangement of leaving trained teachers unemployed and allowing teachers without training to take up teaching posts is wasting the resources used on teacher training.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective numbers of applications received by EDB for teacher registration in respect of employment of "permitted teachers" in primary and secondary schools in each of the school years from 2007-2008 to 2009-2010, the reasons for such applications, as well as the numbers of applications granted and the reasons there for;

(b) whether the authorities will inform the schools that priority shall be given to "registered teachers" when recruiting teachers in the new school year, so as to ensure a steady development of the teaching profession; and

(c) whether the authorities will review the existing policy, so as to ensure that the authorities will not approve, except for very special reasons, the employment of "permitted teachers" by schools during the difficult period of the number of classes being reduced, in order not to waste the resources used on teacher training?


(a) From the 2007/08 to 2009/10 school years, the numbers of applications received and approved in respect of the employment of permitted teachers to fill the posts of the teaching staff establishment in aided primary and secondary schools are shown in Annex.

     In making an application, schools have to confirm that no suitable registered teacher is available for employment. The Education Bureau (EDB), after taking the school's operational need into consideration, will issue a permit to teach on condition that the candidate meets the relevant requirements set out in the Education Ordinance and Education Regulations, including holding the required academic qualifications, and there is no record showing that the relevant candidate is unfit to teach.
(b) and (c) Regarding the issue of teachers' employment mentioned in the question, we have all along clearly requested schools to employ teachers with professional training qualification as far as possible to ensure the quality of education, and to conduct recruitment exercises in a fair, open and impartial manner.  The guidelines on the appointment of teachers are set out in the Codes of Aid and the School Administration Guide.

     In practice, given the different conditions and requirements of different vacancies, in addition to the applicants' academic qualifications and teacher training received, schools will also consider the latest subject knowledge and skills required for the posts, applicants' qualities and overall performance, working experience, and their competence to teach the subjects concerned, etc. in order to select the most suitable candidates.  A small number of schools may not be able to recruit suitable trained teachers for various reasons (such as subject mismatch, lack of suitable candidates due to the remoteness of the school, applicants' unsatisfactory performance during interviews and below par working performance in the past, etc.), and therefore have to apply for approval to employ permitted teachers.
     To ensure the quality of education, we have been actively encouraging serving untrained teachers to undergo professional training as soon as possible.  To this end, there are relevant arrangements under the existing system.  For instance, those who have completed appropriate teacher training may receive incremental credits based on the recognised professional qualifications.  Untrained teachers will not be allowed to proceed beyond the salary bar for their rank, nor will they be eligible for promotion.  As a matter of fact, the vast majority of primary and secondary teachers have acquired professional qualifications and the untrained teachers in general will seek to undergo training as soon as possible.

     The EDB has been closely monitoring the impact of the student population decline on the school sector, and has introduced various relief measures to facilitate school development and to stabilise the teaching force.  We will also review these measures from time to time in the light of the actual development.

     In view of the decreasing number of permitted teachers employed by schools in recent years, and having regard to the difficulties encountered by individual schools in teacher recruitment and their genuine operational needs, it may not be appropriate to prohibit schools from employing permitted teachers at this stage.  However, we will step up efforts in reminding schools to appoint trained teachers as far as possible, including stating clearly in the guidelines on teacher appointment on the web-based School Administration Guide that priority should be given to trained teachers and reiterating this message in relevant circulars in future.

Ends/Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Issued at HKT 14:55


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