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LCQ10: Education support for children of native-speaking English teachers

     Following is a question by the Hon Tanya Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (December 7):


     Recently, I have received a complaint from a native-speaking English teacher ("NET") who teaches in Hong Kong that when she applied for her children for admission into the English Schools Foundation schools, they did not offer her children any chance of interview, thereby causing difficulties for her children to study in Hong Kong.  Regarding the support currently provided for children of NETs to come to Hong Kong to pursue their study, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it knows the current numbers of NETs teaching in various primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong; among them, the number of teachers who came to Hong Kong with school-age children; the number of such children; the respective numbers of children of NETs currently studying in international schools and mainstream schools;

(b) given that the Education Bureau is responsible for implementing the NET Scheme in various primary and secondary schools, whether the Education Bureau, in granting approval for the teachers concerned to come to Hong Kong to teach, takes into account if there are sufficient international school places in Hong Kong for the children of those teachers; if it does, can the authorities explain why children of some NETs have difficulties to attend school in Hong Kong; if not, of the reasons for that;

(c) whether the authorities had received any request for assistance from NETs concerning difficulties for their children to attend school in Hong Kong in the past three years; if they had, of the number of such cases and details of the follow-up work; whether the authorities currently provide education support services for children of NETs; if they do, of the details; if not, whether the authorities will consider launching such services; if not, of the reasons for that; and

(d) given the present tight supply of international school places, whether the authorities have assessed the impact of such circumstances on attracting NETs to come to Hong Kong to teach; if they have, of the assessment results; if not, the reasons for that; whether the authorities will take concrete measures to ensure that children of all NETs who come to Hong Kong to teach will be given international school places; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     Our reply to the Member's question concerning the support for children of the Native-speaking English Teachers (NETs) to study in Hong Kong is as follows:

(a) In the 2011/12 school year, 415 and 457 NETs are appointed under the NET Scheme by secondary and primary schools respectively.  However, the EDB does not have the number of NETs who came to Hong Kong under the NET Scheme with school-age children or the number of such children.  Nor do we have any information about the schools that such children attend in Hong Kong.

(b) Currently, public sector secondary and primary schools may recruit NETs through the EDB or by themselves.  In other words, not all NETs appointed under the NET Scheme come to teach in Hong Kong through the EDB's arrangements.  Having regard to the principle of equal opportunities, the EDB does not require applicants for NET posts to disclose their family status in the recruitment exercise, nor should the applicants' chance of appointment be affected by their need to bring along their school-age children to Hong Kong.  Moreover, NETs who choose to accept appointment under the NET Scheme should be fully aware of the pay and benefits under the Scheme as well as the living situation of Hong Kong.  To our knowledge, NETs who come to Hong Kong with their children do not necessarily opt for international or the English Schools Foundation schools for their children.  In fact, some NETs do send their children to English-medium schools in the public sector (including DSS schools).

(c) We have always provided NETs with information on local education for non-Chinese speaking children through various channels, including liaison meetings between the EDB and the Native English Speaking Teachers' Association, and relayed their requests and concerns to the relevant education institutions.  In the past three years, the EDB did not receive any request from individual NETs for assistance in their children's education in Hong Kong.

(d) It is the choice of individual NETs to send their children to international schools.  The EDB cannot guarantee that the NETs' children will be admitted to certain schools.  As far as we know, at present some international schools still have vacant school places.  Since its introduction in 1998, the NET Scheme, with its remuneration package, has successfully attracted quite a number of NETs of different nationalities to teach in Hong Kong.  Starting from the 2005/06 school year, we have introduced a Retention Incentive for eligible NETs to encourage them to continue their service in Hong Kong.  Statistics of recent years show that the wastage of NETs has been stable.

Ends/Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:08


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