A teacher who was de-registered for allegedly disseminating “pro-independence” messages is now barred from all Hong Kong school campuses.

The Alliance Primary School teacher was struck off in late September, the government announced on Monday, for “serious professional misconduct,” meaning that he will be barred from teaching for life.

Alliance Primary School
Alliance Primary School in Kowloon Tong. Photo: Chong Fat, via Wikimedia Commons.

In a response to RTHK’s enquiries, an Education Bureau spokesperson said that – according to the Education Ordinance – anyone whose teacher registration is cancelled will not be allowed to enter or remain on any school campuses without the written permission of the permanent secretary for education.

The spokesperson said that the policy is to ensure students can learn in a safe environment. If the person concerned needs to enter any schools in the future, he or she will have to submit a written application to the permanent secretary.

Education Bureau intervention

A worksheet believed to be designed by the teacher in March last year was highlighted by pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao as being “pro-independence.” Following the report last September, the school received complaints forwarded by the Education Bureau relating to the teaching material.

After the school investigation cleared the teacher of wrongdoing, the Education Bureau sent representatives to the premises and requested that an investigation report be submitted this March, a source familiar with the matter told Apple Daily.

Six teachers from the school received Education Bureau letters this June accusing them of professional misconduct and demanding a written explanation of the incident. The school principal and vice-principals were reprimanded, whilst three teachers who used the controversial materials for teaching received warnings in July.

Kevin Yeung
Kevin Yeung in a press conference on October 6, 2020. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

The teacher who designed the worksheet was de-registered in September and barred from teaching with immediate effect.

Ip Kin-yuen – a lawmaker representing the education sector – told RTHK on Wednesday that the bureau rejected the teacher’s request to meet in person.

Deputy Secretary for Education Chan Siu Suk-fan told the press on Tuesday that the teacher has a “premeditated plan” to promote Hong Kong independence as they spent a long time and putting strong emphasis on the class topic.

Appeal process

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union has started a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for legal and financial assistance for the teacher.

The teacher may file an appeal against the decision in accordance with the Education Ordinance, but members of the appeal board panel will be appointed by the chief executive.

At the press briefing ahead of her weekly Executive Council meeting, the city’s leader Carrie Lam backed the decision, adding that action against “bad apples” in the education sector would continue.

The chief executive – chancellor of all public universities – was asked by a reporter how she may handle posters and messages on university campuses which may be in violation of the national security legislation.

Article 10 of the law stipulates that Hong Kong SAR shall promote national security education in schools and universities. Article 9 also states the government shall take necessary measures to strengthen public communication, guidance, supervision and regulation in matters concerning national security, including in schools and universities.

Lam said that law enforcement may take over the matter if the university management is incompetent in complying with the requests. She said the secretary for education will also meet university presidents to discuss how to implement new requirements for educators under the new law.

Carrie Lam
Carrie Lam at a press conference on October 6, 2020. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

In June 2020, Beijing inserted national security legislation directly into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – bypassing the local legislature – following a year of pro-democracy protests and unrest. It criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure. The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.

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Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.