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Monday, August 1, 2016, 10:29

Christine Choi promises education reform manifesto

By Joseph Li
Christine Choi promises education reform manifesto
Christine Choi Yuk-lin, principal of Fukien Secondary School (Siu Sai Wan campus), will compete for the education constituency in the Legislative Council election. (Photo by Roy liu / China Daily)

Headmistress Christine Choi Yuk-lin is taking on the Legislative Council education constituency election. The secondary school principal is challenging the incumbent with pledges to care for frontline teachers and rectify current problems.

If elected, she will seek to work closely with the Education Bureau and related government departments with a view to delivering her education initiatives. Soliciting support from the top level, she will call on Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and particularly Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah in a bid to secure the financial resources needed to implement her proposals.

Choi is the principal of Fukien Secondary School (Siu Sai Wan campus), which she joined in September 2012. Prior to that she had rich teaching experience and also worked for the Education Bureau as a senior school development and curriculum development officer.

In her interview with China Daily, Choi does not hide that she is unhappy with the performance of Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim. She also blasts the incumbent education constituency lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen for being too politicized commenting that Ng had limited experience in the education sector before he became secretary for education and had failed to communicate with teachers. Choi said Ng was not strong enough in implementing the teaching of national education in schools in 2012, stressing it is right for students to learn more about the history and culture of the country. As a result, the plan was shelved.

As for Ip, he has thrown his lot in with the “pan-democratic” camp and spends a lot of time on political struggles.

“He spent more time on telling University of Hong Kong students to boycott class, demanding cancelation of the Territory-wide System Assessment and going against the teaching of Chinese via Putonghua without strong reasons,” Choi rued. Most recently, Ip said he would introduce a private bill to end the Chief Executive’s right to be the chancellor of local universities.

“He even boasted of the obstruction of Belt and Road scholarships as an achievement. His political stance always comes first ahead of urgent matters and problems that the teachers are concerned with most,” Choi said.

In her election platform the headmistress highlights concerns about the welfare of teachers as well as opportunities for students when they leave school.

She said teachers face huge work pressures including long working hours and are also subject to occupational illness such as sore throat and neck pain. She wants medical insurance for teachers to cover occupational illness. She also proposes no-pay leave for a year for teachers to pursue further studies related to teaching, giving them the opportunity to upgrade their credentials and improve themselves.

She strongly hopes the government will introduce a pay scale to stabilize the supply of kindergarten teachers and motivate them, as many are underpaid. “The absence of a proper pay scale hurts their dignity and that will bring no good to kindergarten education,” she pointed out.

Her proposed measures will require the government’s financial backing, she said.

Choi is also very concerned that due to the decrease in the number of students schools are under pressure to cut classes or even close down, which will result in redundancies. As this is an urgent matter, she will seek to freeze the number of Secondary One classes once she gets elected.

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