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教育局局長吳克儉先生 SBS, JP
根據不同的新聞報導，教育局 (「局方」) 近日發出警告，警告裏表示教師如被發現在校內鼓吹港獨思想或會被取消註冊教師資格。 根據局方的警告，該等行為構成「違法或失德」。局方更提醒本地學校的法團校董會有責任提醒它們的教師應以《基本法》為基礎，不能在校園宣揚港獨。
Mr. Eddie Ng Hak-kim SBS JP,
Secretary for Education,
The Government of the HKSAR,
11/F, East Wing, Central Government Offices,
2 Tim Mei Avenue, Tamar,
22 August 2016
Dear Mr. Ng,
An Open Letter on the Bureau’s Recent Warning to Teachers
According to recent reports, the Education Bureau (“the Bureau”) has warned that teachers may lose their qualifications if they are found to have promoted Hong Kong independence in schools. According to the Bureau, such conduct constitutes “unlawful activity or misconduct”. The Bureau has also asked the Incorporated Management Committees of local schools to remind their teachers not to advocate the idea of independence in schools, on the basis that this violates the Basic Law.
We write to urge the Bureau to withdraw its warning, and instead provide full assurance to teachers that their freedom of speech will be protected. Our grounds are as follows.
First and foremost, we note that there is nothing at all in the Education Ordinance (“the Ordinance”) that allows for the de-registration of a teacher simply because he or she has promoted a certain political view, such as Hong Kong independence.
Section 47 of the Ordinance sets out the grounds for cancellation of a teacher’s registration. It provides that the registration of a teacher may be cancelled if the teacher has behaved in a way which “constituted professional misconduct” or is “incompetent”.
We strongly disagree with any suggestion that a teacher would be guilty of professional misconduct, or regarded as incompetent, simply by virtue of the fact that he has raised the topic of Hong Kong independence with his students.
The Code for the Education Profession of Hong Kong (“the Code”) makes it clear that a teacher:
(1) Should endeavour to stimulate the spirit of inquiry and the acquisition of knowledge in his students (see paragraph 2.2);
(2) May discuss controversial matters with students provided that he adopts an objective viewpoint so far as possible (see paragraph 2.2.13);
(3) Should encourage students to think independently and to form their rational judgments based upon knowledge (see paragraph 2.2.14);
(4) Should foster among students a sense of democracy and educate them to respect others (see paragraph 2.2.18);
(5) Should be aware of current affairs (see paragraph 2.6.6);
(6) Should teach students to respect different positions and opinions in matters over which public opinion is divided (see paragraph 2.6.7);
(7) Should treat as a primary duty the teaching of respect for human rights (see paragraph 2.6.8); and
(8) Should nurture in students the concepts of freedom, peace, equality, rationality, and democracy (see paragraph 2.6.8).
Thus, contrary to the Bureau’s efforts to ban discussion of certain political viewpoints, it is in fact part of a teacher’s duty to foster independent thinking and critical debate on different perspectives within society – including those that may not be aligned with the Government’s position.
We would also point out that mere advocacy of Hong Kong independence is not a criminal offence under the current law.
In light of the above, we entirely fail to see any legal justification for the Bureau to equate mere advocacy of Hong Kong independence with “unlawful activity or misconduct”.
In the circumstances, we are extremely dismayed at the Bureau’s intimidating warning towards teachers, which is not only without any legal foundation, but will also only serve to stifle free discussion – which is in direct contradiction to the values enshrined in the Code.
We therefore urge the Bureau to withdraw its warning, and instead provide full assurance to teachers that, as guaranteed by the Basic Law, the Bill of Rights, and the Code, all teachers are entitled to freedom of speech and to foster an environment of critical thinking and debate within their classroom, including regarding controversial issues.
Progressive Lawyers Group
Article was originally published in Stand News on 22 August 2016