|The Association’s Letter to Mrs. Carrie Lam, The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR, on our proposal to be considered in her Policy Address 2020
Dear Mrs. Lam,
Since last year, Hong Kong is severely affected by the pandemic and the social movement. Schools are suspended; oursociety is in turmoil; and people are disturbed. All these pose great challenges to the education sector and students. In the coming days, all parties need to work closely together to let our society return to stability and social harmony, reboot and start again. Thus, our Association would like to propose the following three areas of work for your consideration with regard to your Policy Address on education to be released later this year.
- Ensure that “Suspension of Classes” really means “No Suspension of Learning”
The decision of class suspension in view of the pandemic came in a rush, which definitely affected students’ learning and their whole-person development. The difficulties that schools faced when practising “Suspension of Classes without Suspension of Learning” reflect that the policy on Information Technology (IT) in Education in Hong Kong is far behind the actual needs and cannot cope with challenges. In view of the pandemic, “suspension of classes” at times may become a new norm. Thus, the Hong Kong Government should:
- Provide comprehensive support to facilitate students’ “Learning at Home” and help the cross-border students and those students in need:
To cultivate our students to make good use of IT in learning and become real independent learners, the Government should give assistance and subsidies to students in the purchase of mobile facilities for eLearning. Besides Laptop or Tablet computers, there are the issues of installation of Apps and Internet connection. These measures need to be particularly strengthened for the students with financial needs to narrow the Digital Divide. Besides, when IT in learning becomes the main learning mode, Google Classroom, Cloud Classroom, YouTube, etc. become very important learning platforms. The Education Bureau (EDB) must help the cross-border students to solve the problem of accessing Internet across the border.
- Create and develop a quality Learning Management System for eLearning so that schools do not need to “make their own steel individually”:
At present, the quality of the Learning Management Systems available in the market varies a lot; and most of them are not directly related to the local curricula. In this long period of class suspension, teachers of different schools are exhausted in making their own eLearning platforms. The Government should take the leading role to strengthen the connection between secondary schools and different professional bodies in education (including universities and other academic institutes) to match well with the latest curriculum development. It is important to collaborate to create a quality learning management system for eLearning which meets Hong Kong’s needs.
- Enhance Teachers’ “Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge” (TPACK):
Since the beginning of class suspension, teachers work hard to strengthen their audio-visual skills so as to conduct online Learning and Teaching activities and online live lessons. Teachers’ IT skills vary; thus the Government should have more systematic planning and training for teachers’ professional development in this area to enable all teachers in Hong Kong to be familiarised with eLearning and Teaching, and develop Network Classrooms for the future development in education.
The pandemic brings along class suspension as well as a new learning mode. The eLearning experience of all schools during this period should not be forgotten after the end of this pandemic. It can be predicted that eLearning will enter a new stage. If the Government can grasp this opportunity and strengthen the above measures and facilities, the bud that appears in this period can grow sturdily and IT in education can be sustained.
- Reduce the Impact of the Social Movement on Students and Schools
There is a great rift in the Hong Kong society because of the political contentions, which seriously affect students’ healthy growth. We do not know when the conflicts can be resolved. Though the tension may be relieved temporarily, it does not mean that our society can resume stability within a short period of time. If there is no effective restorative work, the rift will be widened and the conflicts will continue. We think the HKSAR Government should work hard on how to restore society’s confidence in the Government; and hope the HKSAR Government can:
- Ensure that schools’ daily operation can run smoothly; and that schools will not be affected by anyexternal non-professional intervention
- Ensure that school curricula can be developed professionally; and its balanced and visionary development will not be affected by thecurrent political environment which may be temporary in nature.
- Strengthen its support measures for students who have emotional and mental health problems; increase its provision of resources for the Welfare Sector and the Medical Sector, which enables them to give more professional support to schools to help the students who are mentally disturbed because of the social movement, prolonged period of class suspension or other relevant reasons
- Handle the students who are arrested because of the social movement leniently to build up constructive conditions for social reconciliation
- Re-examine the local universities’ admission quota and requirements, which can allow students to develop their different potential besides giving opportunities to ‘capable’ students to further their studies.
Perhaps the way out for the Hong Kong society now is to reduce the long-term disturbance of the social movement on teenagers, and to re-ignite young students’ hope on their future and the future of oursociety.
- Trust Schools; Respect the Education Profession
When facing the various difficulties of the last year, the education sector devoted to cultivating a stable and caring learning environment in schools for students professionally to help students to overcome the obstacles. Amidst the turmoil in society, the professional spirit of the Hong Kong educational practitioners is clearly shown. However, recently, there are some unfair criticisms towards the education sector. This does not only harm the social harmony, but also hinders the work of the education sector in cultivating the young generation for society. Thus, the HKSAR Government should:
- Safeguard and support the spirit of school-based management, and respect the professional autonomy of educational practitioners
- Ensure that the EDB handles the complaints against schools or teacherswith the existing mechanism in a cautious, fair, just and professional manner. Recently, the EDB receives some anonymous complaints but they are still being handled. It is very difficult for schools to follow up as no concrete information is provided. This does not only affect the teachers being complained and their work, but also cause misunderstanding among teachers which affects their collaboration and mutual trust. Besides, it unreasonably takes the schools a lot of time to investigate the anonymous complaints, which disrupts the learning and teaching activities and may even discourage some capable youngsters to join the education profession. At the end, we will lose some promising young teachers with good potential in the future.
- Fully implement the Recommendations in the “Report of the Task Force on Professional Development of Teachers (2019)” as soon as possible. This includes the planning, implementation and monitoring of the Professional Ladder for Teachers, establishing more systematic teachers’ commendation schemes at multiple levels, and establishing a large scale and well-recognised system to commend teachers. All these measures can help to enhance the quality of the education profession, and give due respect and commendation to educationalpractitioners who have outstanding achievements in different areas.
- Establish a Professional Council for Education which haslegal status, autonomy and self-regulatory spirit under a democratic and just election mechanism, which will eventually ensure the professional autonomy of educational practitioners.
To move towards stability and have a fresh start again for our society, the Government needs to have concrete plans for different policies and areas. We sincerely hope that the Chief Executive can consider our recommendations listed in this letter for a better future for Hong Kong’s education. If there is any question or enquiry about our recommendations, please feel free to contact me or Principal Lin Chun Pong, our Vice Chairman.
Tang Chun Keung
香港在過去一年受到新冠肺炎和社會事件的影響，學校停課，社會動盪，人心不安，為學界及學生 帶來極大挑戰。在未來日子，各界須共同努力，讓社會回復安定，重新起步。就教育範疇而言，本 會對 2020 年施政報告有三方面的建議。
因疫情而需要長時間停學的決定來得迅速，學生學習及全人發展難以不受影響。學校在實踐 「停課不停學」時的種種困難，反映了香港的資訊科技教育政策落後於現實需要，未能應對挑 戰。在疫症全球大流行下，未來間歇性「停課」或成新常態，特區政府應:
- 全面加強「在家學習」裝備以支援有需要及跨境學生: 要發展香港學生成為善用資訊科技、真正的自主學習者，政府要全面協助學生添置行動型 電子學習設備，除手提電腦或平板電腦外，還有軟件及網絡裝置，特別須加強照顧家境清 貧學生，以縮短數碼鴻溝。另外，當資訊科技教學成為主要的學習模式，Google Classroom雲端教室、Youtube 等成為學習的重要載體，教育局需要協助跨境生解決跨境連網阻隔的問 題。
- 創建優質電子學習管理系統 (Learning Management System)以避免學校各自煉鋼: 現時坊間電子學習管理系統質素參差，且大都與香港學校課程內容沒有直接關聯，在這長 時間停學期間，各校老師疲於奔命，各自製作電子教學平台。政府須作牽頭，加強不同教 育專業(包括大學或其他學術機構)與中學的聯繫，配合課程最新發展，攜手創建合乎香港需 要的優質電子學習管理系統。
提升教師的科技學科教學知識 (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge TPACK): 停課以來，全港教師惡補視頻技能，以推展網上學習及實時教學;不難發現老師們掌握電 子教學的能力參差，政府宜組織系統式的教師專業培訓，讓全港教師熟悉網絡教學，發展 網絡教室，為未來教育作好預備。疫情導致學校停課，亦帶出了新的學習模式，全港學校在這段時間的電子學習經歷，不應在疫 情過後便全面抺掉。可以預見網上學習將會進入一個新階段，政府若能把握時機，大幅提升上 述各項裝備，讓短時間內已萌芽的資訊科技教育能延續下去。
香港社會因政治問題出現空前的撕裂，嚴重影響學生的健康成長，我們不知衝突紛爭甚麼時候 才停下來，但即使衝突暫停，也不代表社會能於短期內回復真正穩定，若欠缺有效的復和工作， 撕裂將繼續嚴重，矛盾仍然存在。我們認為特區政府應致力回復社會對政府的信心，並期望特 區政府對學校及學生能:
- 加強協助情緒及精神健康出現問題的學生，增加資源予社福界和醫護界，讓學校得到更充 足的專業支援，協助因社會事件、長期停課或其他原因而情緒、精神受困的學生。
面對過去一年的種種困難，學界秉持專業，積極有為，在能力所及的範疇，致力建設一個穩定 和關愛的校園環境，協助學生渡過難關。香港教育工作者的專業精神，在動亂中彰顯無遺。惟 近期社會出現一些對教育界甚不公平的言論，這既不利社會和諧，更窒礙了教育界培育社會新 一代的工作。特區政府應:
- 盡快具體落實『教師專業發展專責小組 (2019)』 的建議，包括規劃、執行和監察教師專業 階梯、建立更具系統和多元化的表揚計劃、設立具規模和社會認受的表揚教師制度，以提 升教育專業質素和表彰在不同方面有成就的教育工作者。
- 成立一個具備法定地位、真正貫徹自主自律精神、能體現公平及民主選舉機制的教學專業 議會，確保教育工作者的專業自主。結語要社會邁向穩定，重新起步，政府需要在不同政策範疇提出具體對策，希望特首能慎重考慮以上建 議，為香港教育創建美好的願景。如對本會的建議有任何問題或查詢，歡迎與本人或本會副主席連 鎮邦校長(電話:5505 9911)聯絡。