Almost a fifth of teachers and members of the public in Hong Kong have given Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim a score of zero for his education policies and overall performance, a study conducted by University of Hong Kong on behalf of education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen has found.

The study interviewed around 1,000 members of the public and a similar number of teachers via telephone over the past month. Interviewees were asked to rate Ng’s performance as Secretary for Education, as well as their opinions on the stress levels of teachers and students.

Education Secretary Eddie Ng at a primary school. Photo: GovHK.

More than 78 per cent of the teachers gave Ng’s education policies and overall performance less than four marks out of ten, and over 50 per cent of the public gave Ng a score below four. Nineteen per cent of the public and 17 per cent of teachers gave Ng a score of zero.

In terms of individual incidents, interviewees were most displeased with Ng’s handling of the controversy surrounding the Territory-wide System Assessments (TSAs), with the public and teachers giving him an average score of 3.3 and 2.6 respectively, Apple Daily reported.

Lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen. File Photo: Stand News.

Ip said that he believed interviewees to be dissatisfied with the Education Bureau’s resource allocation. He said that government funding for education was not high, and resources often did not fall onto things that were important, such as devising a syllabus and improving the teachers’ contracts, RTHK reported.

High stress levels

The study also found that interviewees believed local teachers to be under severe stress. Among both groups, teachers’ stress levels were given a median score of eight out of ten, while 94 per cent of teachers believed their stress levels to fetch a score of six or above. Sixteen per cent of the interviewees gave their stress levels a full mark of ten.

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In general, the younger and more inexperienced the teachers were, the more stress they faced. Ip said that this was due to factors such as newer teachers having yet to adapt to the work environment, or being paid differently from teachers under contracts.

Secretary for Education Eddie Ng. File Photo: Stand News.

Eighty-two per cent of the public also believed students suffered from great stress, and Ip suggested implementing small-class teaching, putting a stop to the TSAs, and ensuring a sufficient number of social workers at schools.

Ip also said that teachers and students mutually affected each other and that when teachers faced great stress, they would perform less well in classes; at the same time, when students were stressed, the teachers were also likely to draw a lower sense of satisfaction from teaching.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.