The government should install CCTV cameras in Hong Kong’s classrooms to better monitor teachers’ behaviour and comments, a pro-Beijing lawmaker said Friday, following earlier calls by officials to identify “bad apples” in the profession.

“Through installing CCTV cameras… we can objectively monitor the teacher’s classroom environment,” Liberal Party member Tommy Cheung told a legislative committee meeting. He said a recording would also protect teachers who come under scrutiny.

Student education coronavirus Covid-19 virus
Hong Kong students wearing masks. Photo: GovHK.

The Liberal Party lawmaker said the recording of teachers would also be beneficial to students, who could access classes when they were sick, and parents, who would be able to monitor classwork and help with homework. He clarified that the proposal was limited to recording teachers and not students.

Cheung’s comments came on the last day of a three-day legislative debate over the chief executive’s policy address. A motion of thanks was passed with two objections.

The Legislative Council currently has no opposition group after 15 democrats quit in solidarity with four colleagues who were ousted following a decision by Beijing.

Tommy Cheung
Tommy Cheung. Photo: RTHK Screenshot.

In her policy address delivered last November, the city’s leader Carrie Lam vowed to foster a sense of Chinese identity in schools and better monitor and “enhance” the quality of the city’s teachers. Lam and Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung have said authorities need to identify and remove “bad apples” from the teaching sector.

Two teachers were disqualified last year after the national security law came into force, one of them for allegedly spreading ideas of Hong Kong independence in his classroom. A third teacher faces possible disqualification pending an ongoing investigation into “biased” teaching materials.

Teaching union heads have decried the authorities’ increased scrutiny of the city’s education sector as “white terror.”

‘Waste of time’

Former opposition lawmaker for the education sector Ip Kin-yuen told HKFP that Cheung’s proposal was unnecessary. “There is no need for such a thing, it’s a waste of money and waste of time. A lot of human resources will go into monitoring teachers and students.”

He also warned the move would create “privacy issues” and ruin the rapport between teachers and students.

student school education uniform Covid-19 mask kindergarten
Photo: GovHK.

“Such a suggestion implies distrust in the school system… in teachers and students,” Ip said, adding that recording lessons would have a “negative impact” on the psychology of the teachers and students.

“I’m sure [lawmaker Cheung] would not want to be monitored in this way… now as a legislator,” Ip added.

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Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.