Generation 40s – 四十世代

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想法變政策 教局不及格

Hong Kong Economic Journal
A18 | 時事評論 | By 許為天 |
2013-04-27

想法一:在看日本國內女子排球賽的電視轉播時,球員在發球時的個人介紹標示中,不只有年齡高度,更附上該球員畢業的院校。此等措施加強了大中院校對體育活動的關注,亦同時增加球員對母校的聯繫和歸屬。

虛擬政策一:在今年開始,各電子傳媒主辦或轉播的選美、歌唱或體育比賽等,在介紹參賽者時均須標示其畢業的院校,以提升學校教育在社會的意義。

想法二:泰國現任總理英祿在兩年前參選時,承諾向全國約80 萬小學新生派發價值約100 美元的平板電腦,以推展資訊科技學習模式,她就任後履行承諾。這個有史以來最大的平板電腦訂購合約,由深圳市希科普科技獲得,訂價81 美元一部。香港政府說支持資訊科技教學多年,也是時候慷慨一下了。

虛擬政策二:全港32萬小學生在下學年獲贈上述的平板電腦,共需2 億港元,另加2 億元發展相關教學軟件及師資配套。

以上的虛擬「想法變政策」,旨在回應教育局在《財政預算案》提出的新意:「注資四億八千萬元設立獎學金,資助本地傑出學生入讀海外知名大學的學位或師資培訓課程……;獲頒獎學金的同學須承諾在畢業後回港擔任教師」。當然,讀者會明白, 「想法變政策」並不應是如此簡單。在政策發展的理論上,政策的開始大多數是源於問題的出現。在任何時候,有關教育問題和議論總有很多,故此政策製訂者便要有智慧去選取問題解決的緩急先後。

此項目屬教師政策,我們不妨想想,現時教師政策中, 「吸引傑出學生入行」是否當務之急,要動用到4.8 億去推行如此政策?與上任政府的教育政策比較,「校園驗毒計劃」源於毒禍猖獗,在幾經爭議後,也只是撥款一千萬作了一年的試行計劃而已。

如今,在教師政策所涉範疇中,新人難覓教席、資深優秀教師流失等等,均是急在眉睫的問題,教育局未有正視。倒反是雷同筆者上列虛擬式的「想法變政策」,看到新加坡及美國的一些類似的鼓勵模式,便創意地作出如此叫人難明的教育投資。

外地政策的借用或引入,必須審視本港與外地的異同。新加坡的師資培訓以至聘任,幾乎是由政府包辦,拿獎學金的大學生回國任教自有安排,而獎學金得主對國家歸屬的重視亦是與本港的中學畢業生大異其趣。至於美國的Teach for America,旨在吸引優秀大學畢業生或界外人士入行。現在美國面對的是大量教師流失,在城市地區接近兩成。

此外,美國教師的教學及專業的平均水平遠低於香港教師,這可以用歷年的學生國際評估的排名證實,故此,此政策在美國有救急補底之用。明乎此,便難怪當我們的教育局長到美加時,當地的官員及學者會表示贊同。情境不同,處事的優先次序有別,將這些說法用來作解釋,又是一個政策制訂過程的敗筆。

本來在政策醞釀時,應加上不同意見的滙聚,然後再考量各方案的利弊。

不過此政策似乎是繞過此程序,便已得到政府高層認同及支持。及至政策面世後,至今的大多數輿論均是反對,由簡單回應一句「白癡」到理據分明的討論都有。而在局方則只有局長一人作口頭及文字的籠統回應,未有以詳盡的資料及數據作出支持的論證,如本港新教師的學業水平、傑出學生的擇業分布等。

所以,到頭來又是一些講法及想法的發揮,對一個使用4.7 億元的政策而言,又怎可以給予一個及格的分數呢!

最後的想法:一個入行五年多的年輕教師,由教學助理捱至今天的中學文憑教席,最近與我分擔可能遭辭退的憂慮。近數日的新聞:未知緣故自盡的中學教學助理,學歷良好、熱心社會、年輕有為,如果他在校已是長約教師,今天他會否走上這不歸路呢?

我的具體建議:全港的官津中學,若預計在未來三年內有長約教師退休或離職,可在下學年接納在職的教師助理或臨時合約教師轉為編制內的教師,每校至多兩個,及至長約教師離職後才取消此額外編制。由此引致的額外薪酬由政府補貼,筆者估量此政策在三年支出少於4.8億。

請在位者真的是急市民之所急,要是「想法變政策」,也要用一個教育專業的腦袋。

後記:在2012 年美國一個教育界周年大會中,哈佛著名醫學教授兼作家Atul Gawande 贈予教育界的金石良言是: Genius doesn’t make you great; how you work in a system does.(可參看www.ascd.org/conferences/conference- daily/ac12/great-teachers.aspx)

教育評議會執委

許為天

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High degree of discontent over university appointments

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion
2013-08-07

Kerry Kennedy

Kerry Kennedy says university president appointments are undemocratic

Threats of class boycotts, calls for rejecting nominated candidates, an appeal for judicial review and candidates not showing up for consultation: all of these have characterised recent presidents’ appointments at Hong Kong’s higher education institutions, including Lingnan University, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Open University and Tung Wah College.

Such appointments are not in themselves part of the daily discussion of democracy and universal suffrage in Hong Kong – yet these are basically problems of governance.

Who gets to participate in the selection of a university president, who gets to vote and what does consultation mean? These have become contested issues over the past few months, suggesting that democracy is as big a problem inside the universities as it is outside.

There has been a distinct political tone to some of the protests, specifically in the cases of Lingnan and Open University. In these, candidates, rightly or wrongly, were linked to the administration of C.Y. Leung and therefore seen to be “tainted” since students’ associations have taken an oppositional stance to the current administration.

Former Chinese University vice-chancellor Lawrence Lau Juen-yee has argued that it is ability, not politics, that should count. Yet politics aside, the issue of “small-circle” appointments is common across all institutions. The appointments often come as a surprise to staff and students who have not been adequately involved. At Tung Wah, it was the board of governors themselves who felt they had been left out of the picture concerning the favoured candidate. But why has this small-circle process developed?

First, students may or may not be represented on the search committee (as at HKIEd, Chinese University and Lingnan) and often only certain classifications of staff can be represented. It all depends on the institution’s ordinance. Some allow students and others do not. Bernard Chan, chairman of Lingnan’s council, explained that its ordinance does not provide for student representatives but they are invited as observers. The same happens at HKIEd.

These observers cannot participate actively in the interview process and are certainly not allowed to vote. This small-circle selection process excludes staff and students and privileges those already privileged – council members and existing senior management. Even though the final decision is made by a governing body, in all likelihood only one name will go forward (thus the concern of the Tung Wah board of governors).

It is these small-circle processes that have raised the ire of students and led to concerns being made public.

One problem is with the legislation covering universities and its inconsistencies. Another, more serious problem is the acceptance and rigid enforcement of processes that are clearly exclusionary rather than inclusive. The attempt to use judicial review to reverse this situation failed because the legislation speaks plainly about this exclusion. But in what direction should such changes head?

Small-circle appointments reflect Hong Kong’s current political structures, which allow a chief executive to be appointed by 1,200 people in a city of seven million. Thus, just as there is a movement towards universal suffrage in the political sphere, there should be a similar movement in university governance.

Our universities should stand out as beacons of democracy and as sites for inclusive debate and discussion. Universities deserve appointment processes that reflect these values.

Small-circle appointments have no role in a modern and vibrant society with democratic aspirations. This is another issue for the government because it involves amending legislation. More importantly, however, it is an issue for all Hong Kong people who value inclusiveness and academic freedom in our higher education institutions.

Professor Kerry Kennedy is co-director of the Centre for Governance and Citizenship at the Hong Kong Institute of Education