By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
All teaching staff including principals of the city’s private schools will no longer be able to work full-time after they reach 65 years of age under the current teacher’s bill proposed by the government.
President of the Legislative Assembly’s Second Standing Committee, Chan Chak Mo, told reporters after yesterday’s closed-door meeting that the government representatives explained that full-time teaching staff will be allowed to work part-time after 65 years of age.
Teaching staff refers not only to teachers but also principals and mid and senior-level management school personnel, according to the draft law of the private school system framework.
Chan said some lawmakers doubted whether it would be a violation of the Basic Law, but since the existing civil service law also has the same regulation concerning the retirement age, the standing committee finally generally agreed with the proposal.
“Teaching staff [at 65 years old or above] are more experienced and skilled, but their jobs require intensive dedication of time and the government is worried if their physical conditions allow them to handle the work [on a full-time basis],” Chan pointed out.
Meanwhile, the president said a majority of the committee members believed that school principals should be obliged to receive the same annual work performance assessment as other teaching staff, because of the “importance of their job responsibilities”.
According to the draft law, principals are exempt from the compulsory assessment.
Chan said government representatives promised to consider the suggestion and will think about whether or not to accept it.
Moreover, the standing committee was concerned about the appeal mechanism for teaching staff that are given a “not very satisfactory” or an “unsatisfactory” comment in their performance assessments.
The draft law has proposed to establish a Teaching Staff Professional Committee to deal with these types of appeals which will be formed by school representatives, education associations and the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ), education experts and scholars as well as full-time teachers.
Chan said the committee deemed that the proposed mechanism in the draft law was “not fair”, since the professional committee is only responsible to provide advice and it’s the school itself that should have the “final say” about whether or not to adjust the assessment result of the appellant.
“If the school already gave a bad assessment result to the teaching staff in the first place, it would likely to do the same again the second time due to bias or other reasons,” Chan told reporters.
However, government representatives, who included the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture and the DSEJ director, did not accept the lawmakers’ suggestion, arguing that the professional committee would be “enough” to handle appeals fairly.
Nevertheless, Chan said the government will consider introducing more criteria in the mechanism such as the rules of ethics and guidelines to select school representatives for the professional committee.
In addition, the government will study whether or not to impose a retrospective date for the draft law, which Chan said is an issue that requires “cautious discussion”.