Phoebe Chan, Alys Lo and Queenie Fung
Finnish teachers are born out of respect, but how about the teachers in Hong Kong? We spoke to Heep Yunn teacher, Miss Carrie Li and Miss Joyce Li, and asked them to share their views on the education system in Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong, teaching is a career that very few of the best university graduates opt for because of its low monetary reward and relatively low recognition in this business-oriented city. Ms Carrie Li recalls that her family wanted her to study Law because they felt that it was more professional as a career and was more respected and better paid. Miss Joyce Li shares a similar experience of being nagged by relatives on why she did not choose to engage in a more lucrative occupation. However, they both have a passion towards teaching and enjoy the exchanges with students, making them never regret their choice to be a teacher.
Second Class Professionals
We asked them whether teachers in Hong Kong are given enough welfare and respect and both teachers pointed out that teachers deserve more than what they have now. Miss Carrie Li points out teachers in Hong Kong are often treated as ‘second class professionals’ because the service they render is not quantifiable by economic productivity. Since they do not make money but spend government money, they, like social workers and nurses, are often perceived as less important compared to lawyers and businessmen. Miss Carrie Li believes that all teachers should enjoy the same fringe benefits such as housing and medical allowances or subsidies as other professionals have. She mentions that young married couples who are novice teachers find it really difficult to make a stable and decent living on their meager wages.
Miss Joyce Li agrees that Hong Kong people generally respect teachers and think that teachers play an important role in shaping the future of the society. Despite acknowledging the significance of teachers, it is disappointing that the general public do not have enough understanding towards this profession. Various negative news reports about teachers, regarding the HKDSE and the implementation of new subjects, have provoked a lot of criticism and subjective comments about teachers, which show the lack of understanding of the demands of teaching and education in Hong Kong.
Passing the Torch to the Next Generation
Although Hong Kong does not have a perfect education system, it is still obvious that the quality of teachers in Hong Kong nowadays can greatly affect the development of Hong Kong students, who are the foundation of our future society. Miss Joyce Li suggests that the key quality that Hong Kong teachers pass on to their students is ‘efficiency’ whereas Miss Carrie Li believes that it is important for teachers to have a strong vocation or calling to pass the torch on to the next generation.
Compared with Finland’s education system, it is undeniable that Hong Kong’s education system lags far behind. It is impossible to change the education system in a day, so instead of complaining, why don’t we accept the difference between the two systems and start learning how to learn from the Finnish?
If you are interested, please visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8601207.stm to find out more about Finland education.