Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the Education Bureau had a responsibility to safeguard education, supporting the Bureau’s deregistration of a primary school teacher who was accused of professional misconduct by “promoting independence” in a worksheet designed for students.
Speaking to media this morning (6 October), Lam said that it was the first time ever for a teacher being deregistered for professional misconduct under to the Education Ordinance, pledging more actions to come for removing “black sheep in the education sector” because the city’s education can no longer be out of control like “a chicken coop without a flap”.
In September last year, pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao reported on a worksheet widespread online, as the worksheet was accused of promoting Hong Kong independence. It was reported that the worksheet was given to the Primary Five students at Alliance Primary School Kowloon Tong in March 2019.
Questions like “what do you think is freedom of speech?”, “what will happen if Hong Kong no longer enjoys freedom of speech?” were being asked on the worksheet, and students were required to give the reasons for suggesting Hong Kong’s independence with reference to a RTHK programme.
Lam commented that the punishment was a serious one which would affect the teacher’s lifelong career. She believed that the Education Bureau arrived at this decision after a careful and serious investigation of the case. She has asked the Secretary for Education to hold a press conference to further explain the Bureau’s action.
Lam emphasized that the government could not shun away from its responsibilities in education, including acting as a “gatekeeper” in promoting to the next generation concepts of nationhood, social responsibilities, values of Hong Kong and global perspectives. She also stated that the government plays a vital role in the different areas of education, from the education system, syllabus, teacher training to student evaluation.
Lam reiterated that Hong Kong’s education cannot be out of control like “a chicken coop without a flap”, and that the gatekeepers should not be limited to the government but also the senior management of the education sector, in order to prevent schools from becoming political and being used for spreading rumours.
Lam indicated her support for the Education Bureau in handling complaints against teachers in the past year, stressing that the authorities have handled these cases with evidence and in a systematic way. She said that such work will continue, in order to single out those “black sheep in the education sector”. She believed that those who aimed to destroy peace in campuses and to make schools a political ground were far and few between, and hoped that the general public not to be misled.
Condemning the government’s move, Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union said that the teacher’s deregistration “is the most serious sentence to Hong Kong’s education,” while the procedure was unjust and the outcome was unreasonable. The Union said they would help the teacher to appeal against the case, as the accusation to the teacher of promoting independence was “far from the truth”.