School fears up on brain drain

Local | Carine Chow 21 Jul 2021

Students of some secondary schools have to go without home economics class as a growing number of teachers resign, according to the Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary Schools.

Michael Wong Wai-yu, the honorary executive secretary of the association, said it is difficult to find and train home economics teachers, as they require special skills.

"If the teachers immigrate, retire or switch to another school, the schools will no longer be able to teach the subject," he said yesterday.

Wong said the association had also noticed that there are newly recruited teachers who abandon their contracts and leave by paying compensation to schools.

He urged the Education Bureau to look into the reasons behind the talent drain.

"Such cases also happened in the past, but they have become more frequent this year," he said, adding that the association had begun to notice an increase in vacant teaching posts since November.

Wong also said that schools often have to devote a lot of effort into handling teacher-related complaints, noting that there has been an increasing number of complaints about teachers in recent years due to the social climate.

"We have to look at whether the complaints are valid or not," he said.

He suggested the setting up of a general teaching council as an independent institute to review the standard of professional teachers in Hong Kong.

The association sent a letter titled "To keep, attract, nurture and respect our talents" to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Monday in hopes she will adopt some of their suggestions in her policy address on October 6.

In the letter, the association's executive committee quoted many headmasters as saying that their schools are facing brain drains, particularly among the ranks of middle-level management.

"We are concerned about the impact caused by the massive loss of professional teachers. We are worried that there might be a talent gap in middle-level management, which may affect teaching quality," the executive committee wrote.

The association highlighted the immigration wave's impact on schools and said it hoped that the SAR government will listen to public opinion and rationale behind immigration and roll out policies to restore the confidence of Hongkongers.

They also recommended the Education Bureau conduct a territory-wide survey on the teaching profession to better understand teachers' situations, such as their sources of stress.

But the bureau said the rate of teachers leaving public schools has been relatively stable in past years, adding that the percentage of teachers quitting is similar to the percentage of resigning public servants.

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