The number of Hong Kong teachers convicted of criminal offences disqualified by the Education Bureau (EDB) has close to tripled in the past year.

According to figures submitted to the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Wednesday, 14 teachers were deregistered last year after being convicted, compared to five in 2021, and three in 2020.

Secondary school students Covid-19
Secondary school students in Hong Kong. File photo: GovHK.

Disqualification came after “serious offences such as sex-related crime, fraud, criminal damage and misconduct in public office,” according to the EDB.

As for those involved in less serious offences, such as teaching in an unregistered tutorial school, the Bureau issued reprimand letters, written warnings, written advice or verbal reminders, or recorded the case, depending on the severity.

Last year, the EDB issued 12 written warnings, and four verbal reminders to teachers with a criminal conviction.

Teachers stripped of their licences are barred from teaching, including at tutorial schools, and are not permitted on any school premises.

When applying for registration, educators are asked to declare if they have been convicted of a criminal offence in Hong Kong or elsewhere, including spent convictions.

primary student Covid-19 face mask
Primary school students in Hong Kong. Photo: Supplied.

Previously, there were cases of teachers being disqualified over complaints linked to the 2019 extradition bill protests.

Cases included a teacher found to have “continuously used a large amount of one-sided and biased teaching materials,” and a primary school teacher who gave pupils a factually incorrect account of the Sino-British Opium War.

The EDB had since introduced new guidelines requiring teachers to have a “correct understanding” of the Beijing-imposed national security law and the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

‘Notification mechanism’

According to a separate document submitted to LegCo’s Panel on Education for a meeting last Friday, 21 teachers were disqualified in total in 2022.

Apart from being convicted of criminal offences, disqualifications arose from instances of teachers going “beyond teacher-student relations,” according to the EDB document.

The Bureau was also looking into strengthening the “notification mechanism” between the EDB and the police.

“When a teacher is arrested by the Police, EDB will be notified immediately so that appropriate and timely follow-up actions could be taken,” the document read.

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Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.