Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
LCQ12: Measures for strengthening the protection of students on the appointment matters of schools

     Following is a question by the Hon Paul Chan Mo-po and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (June 23):


     It has been reported that a school teacher who was convicted of sexual offences is employed by another school to undertake non-teaching work, and another such teacher is able to continue to teach in another school by using a new name. It has also been reported that the Education Bureau (EDB) will not check the personal particulars of the tutors employed by tutorial schools, and tutors who have committed sexual offences may therefore continue to engage in child care work. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of cases in the past five years in which teachers were alleged to have committed sexual offences and, among such cases, the respective numbers of those in which the offending teachers were convicted, and those in which the teachers involved were prosecuted but not convicted, as well as the respective numbers of cases under trial and under appeal; of the number of complaints received by schools and EDB during that period in which teachers were alleged to have committed such offences; among those teachers who were prosecuted but not convicted, whether it knows the respective numbers of those who are currently undertaking teaching work and non-teaching work, as well as the respective numbers of those teaching in kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools;

(b) whether teachers are required to declare if they have any criminal record to the schools employing them at the time of appointment; if so, whether it knows the number of declarations received in the past five years; if not, the reasons for that;

(c) whether the Government has considered establishing an immediate notification system whereby schools can check with EDB whether the teachers being considered for appointment have records of sexual offences, including cases under trial, under appeal and for which a sentence has been handed down; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(d) whether it has considered establishing a professional teachers' council with statutory powers and requiring all teachers to join as members, while forbidding those who have committed sexual offences to join the profession; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(e) whether there is at present a sexual offences database set up by the Police, which is available for enquiry and checking by all educational institutions and organisations engaging in child care work; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Education Bureau (EDB) attaches great importance to the professional conduct of teachers. All along, EDB has co-operated closely with schools to monitor respectively the registration and appointment of teachers in its endeavour to create a safe learning environment for students so as to safeguard their well-being. To prevent schools from inadvertently appointing improper persons as teachers, EDB has adopted a series of enhancement measures, which include more stringent vetting and monitoring of the registration status of teachers and allowing schools to make enquiries to EDB about teacher registration information, subject to the compliance with legal requirements. We also advise schools to strengthen their vetting procedures and double-check candidates' information with different parties before offering an appointment. Schools should require teachers to report any criminal proceedings instituted against them, and should themselves report serious cases to EDB.  

     On the other hand, EDB also regulates the appointment of teachers by tutorial schools. Under the Education Ordinance, tutorial schools should require candidates to declare their conviction records. Schools intending to employ people who have been convicted of criminal offences as teachers are required to apply to EDB for registration. EDB will consider each application seriously, and may refuse an application if it deems that the candidate is unfit for teaching.

     My reply to the five parts of the question is as follows:

(a) According to EDB's record, the numbers of cases in which serving teachers were involved in sexual offences (Note 1) from January 2006 to May 2010 are as follows:

                    but not     Under   Under  
       Convicted    convicted   trial   appeal  Total
cases      16          11         4       4      35

Note 1: Reference is made to the proposed list of sexual offences contained in the report entitled "Sexual Offences Records Checks for Child-Related Work: Interim Proposals" published by the Law Reform Commission of Hong Kong.

     EDB has always advised schools to seek assistance from law enforcement agencies when they receive complaints of sexual offences allegedly committed by teachers. If EDB has knowledge of such incidents, it will also advise the persons concerned to report the cases to the Police. In the past, schools did not necessarily report the cases to EDB. Hence we do not have statistics on such complaints.  Nevertheless, if a teacher is prosecuted, EDB will follow up on the development of the case in question.

     In fact, EDB has been closely monitoring cases in which teachers are alleged to have committed criminal offences. Even if the teachers concerned are not convicted, EDB will still assess whether professional misconduct is involved on the basis of court proceedings and other investigation reports. Teachers who have committed serious professional misconduct may have their teacher registration cancelled. For those non-convicted teachers who have not committed serious professional misconduct, EDB will not monitor their employment status. However, according to our present teacher information, among the 11 aforementioned teachers who have been prosecuted but not convicted, 4 of them are still serving in public-sector schools and they have not been involved in serious professional misconduct.

(b) Although the appointment of teachers is a matter of school-based management, EDB has issued relevant guidelines to schools from time to time, advising them to formulate a set of proper appointment policies and procedures in selecting suitable candidates. In the past, some schools might ask candidates to declare their criminal records for reference though such information was not required to be submitted to EDB. Therefore, we do not have statistics on the appointment of teachers with criminal records. However, in order to further safeguard the well-being of students, EDB announced in May 2010 a package of enhancement measures on appointment matters, specifying that schools should require candidates to declare their conviction records and provide the relevant details.  We believe that schools will follow the guidelines and strengthen their appointment procedures accordingly.

(c) Candidates being considered for appointment as teachers by schools may be serving teachers or any other persons. Since EDB is not a law enforcement agency, it does not keep a record of all sexual convictions in Hong Kong. It is thus impossible for EDB to provide schools with information on the criminal records of all candidates being considered for appointment as teachers even with the candidates' consent.  Nevertheless, to facilitate schools in verifying the registration status of serving teachers before appointment, EDB will release the registration status and other relevant information about the teachers concerned as soon as possible, on condition that schools have obtained such teachers' consent.

     In fact, the Law Reform Commission has recommended the establishment of an administrative scheme for employers of persons engaged in child-related work to check whether a candidate has any previous convictions for sexual offences. EDB will monitor closely the development of the situation and, upon the confirmation of the arrangements for its implementation, update the guidelines on appointment matters for schools as soon as possible.

(d) There is no causal relationship between the safeguarding of students' well-being and the establishment of a professional teachers' council with statutory powers. Many countries do not have such councils but they can still deal with teachers who have committed an offence or act of misconduct effectively through legislative, administrative and other means.  In Hong Kong, if a teacher is convicted of a criminal offence, EDB will handle the registration status of the teacher in a lawful, reasonable and just manner, taking into consideration the court proceedings, the nature and gravity of the offence. In general, for a teacher who is convicted of serious offences (for example, the teacher has been found guilty of a sexual offence in which the victims are children or his/her students), EDB will cancel the registration of the teacher concerned or refuse his/her registration application.  Upon cancellation/refusal of teacher registration, the person will not be allowed to serve as a teacher in schools (including tutorial schools), not even if he/she changes his/her name.

(e) At present, the Police maintain conviction records for certain criminal offences, including sexual offences, to assist them in discharging their statutory duties of preventing, detecting and investigating crime. In addition, according to relevant legal provisions, the Police may, upon request of institutions authorised by law such as EDB and the Social Welfare Department, provide a person's criminal conviction information to these institutions for their reference in registration and authorisation of certain professionals, such as school managers, teachers and child-minders.

     In addition, in February 2010, the Law Reform Commission published a report on "Sexual Offences Records Checks for Child-related Work: Interim Proposals", recommending the Administration to establish an administrative mechanism, which would enable employers of persons undertaking child-related work and work relating to mentally incapacitated persons to check the criminal conviction records for sexual offences of employees, without delay. The Administration is studying the Law Reform Commission's recommendations for implementation as soon as possible.

Ends/Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Issued at HKT 15:01


Print this page