A Kowloon Tong secondary school has denied anonymous accusations on the internet claiming that it has been running “prison-like” patrols to inspect student and staff.

On Saturday, a complaint purporting to be written by a student surfaced on the Facebook page Schools Secrets. The post accused senior staff at Kowloon True Light Middle School of patrolling classrooms over the past week, marking down behaviour such as yawning and leg-crossing, and demanding that teachers stand up.

Kowloon True Light Middle School. Photo: Mosunct via Wikicommons.

“They would check whether students have placed their water bottles on the table… students would even get scolded for adjusting their eyeglasses,” the post read. “They marked down this behaviour, and afterwards [the students] might have their names taken down.”

Schools Secrets is a Facebook page that allows students to anonymously submit news or gossip about prominent secondary schools in Hong Kong.

The post accused senior staff of monitoring the students’ behaviour through windows outside the classrooms and frequently entering the classroom to correct infractions. “This seriously obstructs the progress of lessons and affects daily teaching.”

“They would verbally demand teachers not to sit down (or sit down less) during lessons,” it claimed. “Our school has two teachers who are over eight months pregnant… if they have to sit down because of physical issues, they have to write a letter of application to the senior administration.”

The post labelled the all-girls’ school the “Kowloon True Light Women’s Prison.”

No punishments

In a reply to HKFP, vice-principal Ho Yuk-ling denied the accusations.

Photo: Schools Secrets via Facebook.

“Crossing legs, yawning and adjusting eyeglasses… the school regulations do not forbid this,” she said. “The principal has spoken in detail to our students, and our teachers also said this did not take place.”

She said that the issue of not placing water bottles on the table was not one of discipline. “During group work, if four students have four bottles of water on the table, there is a chance of spillage… We advise them to place the bottles on a hook beneath the table.”

“We did not punish any students last week,” she added.

Teachers’ guidelines

Ho told HKFP that the school drafted guidelines to encourage teachers to stand up during lessons so that they could see all the students and help them concentrate. She said that other schools have done the same.

However, she said that the guidelines did not apply in special situations such as computer lessons or for pregnant teachers. “The most important principle is the issue of health,” she added.

“We have never had requirements whereby [teachers] had to submit an application to sit down,” she said. She added that if teachers wanted to wear sports shoes to class, for example, they only need to verbally inform the principal.

Secondary school students.

Increased patrolling

Finally, Ho said that staff patrols are part of regular procedure. “On-duty staff will patrol the school for various reasons… for example at 7am they would check the status of the school and see if there are any incidents,” she said.

However, Ho told HKFP that the school has patrolled classrooms more frequently over the past week: “These days, we have found that classroom regulation and order have not met our requirements.”

Originally established in 1872 in Guangzhou, Kowloon True Light Middle School is a prestigious all-girls Christian secondary school in Hong Kong. It uses English as its language of instruction.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.