Public teachers, doctors’ career prospects under review

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Issue 1049, Page 3
Word count: 944
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The SAR government yesterday presented the draft bills for the amendments in the career regimes of public school teachers and teaching assistants and also of public doctors to the Legislative Assembly. Yet, some lawmakers were concerned about whether the changes might bring unfairness to the current professionals.

In order to upgrade teachers’ professionalism and promote their career prospects, the government proposed to raise the job requirements for being able to teach in public kindergartens, primary and secondary schools in Macau – possessing a bachelor’s degree as well as corresponding teacher training qualification.

In regard to the entry-level salaries, secondary school teachers will share the same salary point of 360, equivalent to MOP21,240, with those working in primary schools and kindergartens.

However, in consideration of the different levels of knowledge required and students’ problems in public secondary and primary schools, the highest salary a secondary school teacher could get is MOP45,135 (765 salary point) comparing with MOP43,365 (735 salary point) for a primary school/kindergarten teacher.

In addition, the draft bill aims to shorten the number of years needed for a teacher to promote to the higher level within the career regime.

A new secondary school teacher may be positioned at level 3 in the regime in the beginning, and then be promoted to level 2 and eventually to the top of level 1. Primary school and kindergarten teachers have two levels only.

Also, each of the levels consists of 11 ranks, and the higher rank the teacher is the more salary he or she will receive.

In order to be qualified for a job promotion to the next rank, aside from the number of years of service and a performance assessment, the newly added requirement will be meeting certain number of hours dedicated to professional development.

For becoming a teacher at rank 2, they need to complete two years of service and 60 hours of professional development activities; for jumping to ranks 3 to 7 need three years and 90 hours; whilst for jumping to ranks 8 to 11 need four years and 120 hours.

Existing teachers who neither have a bachelor’s degree nor teacher training qualification will be transferred to the bottom level in the new career regime, and those who possess both will go to the top level.

Some lawmakers doubted whether the new regime would damage the morale of existing teachers, who generally have been in the profession for decades but are without high educational qualification.

According to director of Education and Youth Affairs Bureau Sou Chio Fai, among the 187 public secondary school teachers, three did not have non-tertiary or teacher training qualification.

Despite primary school and kindergarten teachers did not require to have completed tertiary education in the past, Sou said they have obtained higher educational qualification nowadays after “years of efforts”.

In addition, Sou said after a teacher meets the requirements he can sit for an internal exam to enter level 1 in the regime, stressing that the number of years of service achieved previously will be retained.

The draft bill also proposes seven ranks for teaching assistants in public schools, with salaries ranging from MOP12,685 (215 salary point) to MOP17,700 (300 salary point).

Public doctors’ future

The proposed new career regime for public doctors comprises of four levels based on the professional fields – general practitioners, specialists, consultants (newly added) as well as Medical Director.

Non-specialists, Chinese medicine practitioners and dentists will be grouped in the level of general practitioners.

The salary points among the four levels are from 560 to 900, representing a rise in basic salaries from 12 to 28 percent.

Although the 24-hour on-call allowance will be dropped from 65 to 50 percent in the new regime, Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture Cheong U said the overall remunerations will still grow and the changes can provide “better protection for doctors’ retirement lives”.

The remuneration of a fresh specialist will increase by 11.28 percent, from MOP56,463 to MOP62,835. The highest remuneration a Medical Doctor can receive will also jump nearly 17 percent, from MOP68,145 to MOP79,650.

Existing contracts can be maintained until expire, but if both parties agree a new contract can be drawn based on the new career regime within 180 days.

Lawmaker Tsui Wai Kwan questioned into why the entry-level salary of a general practitioner is 560 point, whilst that of a healthcare worker is 570.

Au Kam San pointed out that the public should not compare doctors’ salaries with those of other professionals in the public service, but with doctors in other neighbouring countries.

Cheong U responded that the government had been trying to strike a balance in the salary matter and therefore hoped to listen to more of lawmakers’ opinion.

Health Bureau’s director Lei Chin Ion said that the situation of a healthcare worker having higher salary than a doctor already exists in the current regime, yet doctors can afterwards enjoy a maximum salary point that exceeds that of healthcare workers.

Legal assistance for civil servants

On the other hand, the Legislative Assembly yesterday also passed first reading of the draft bill which aims to provide legal assistance for chief executives, principal officials, workers in public departments and judges from courts and the Public Prosecutions Office, when they get involved in criminal or civil lawsuits due to execution of public duties.

The government will pay for the lawyers and also cover the legal costs and prepayments.

When a legal assistance beneficiary wins the case, the compensation he receives has to be returned to the SAR government.

If the court rules that the accusation is not caused by execution of public duties, the beneficiary will be obliged to repay to the government.

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