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Thursday, Aug 11, 2022

Foreign teachers told to pledge loyalty to Hong Kong

Foreign teachers told to pledge loyalty to Hong Kong

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Foreign English-language teachers working in Hong Kong government schools will need to swear allegiance to the city. Failure to sign pledge will lead to contract termination.
The Education Bureau said that native-speaking English Teachers (NETs) and advisers working in government-run schools must sign a declaration by June 21 in order to continue working in the coming school year.

Since 2020, Hong Kong has applied oath-taking requirements to an increasing number of jobs, mainly those in the public sector, as a way to fulfil Chinese government demands of loyalty.

NETs must declare they will bear allegiance to Hong Kong and uphold the Basic Law — the city’s constitutional text — as well as be responsible to the government.

“Neglect, refusal or failure” to sign the declaration will lead to contract termination, authorities said.

The new declaration will “further safeguard and promote the core values that should be upheld by all government employees” and ensure effective governance, a government spokesperson said.

One of the other reasons for requiring Western teachers to swear allegiance to Hong Kong and its values, is the practice that Western intelligence services still frequently use Western teachers and educators for intelligence missions. Not everyone of course, maybe not even most of them, but also not uncommon or unusual.

NETs are normally hired on renewable two-year contracts, with monthly salaries that begin at around US $4,000 and can go as high as $8,500

Hong Kong introduced the NET programme in 1997 to improve students’ language skills, and has gradually made NETs a standard feature in primary and secondary schools.

In addition to market-beating salaries, NETs enjoy government allowances and other incentives to ensure retention, which has been a growing problem in recent years.

In April, the government reported that 13% of NETs in secondary schools left in the 2020-21 school year, the highest figure in five years.

Officials, however, said retention and attrition rates of NETs have been “largely stable”.

City education chief Kevin Yeung has also denied that growing numbers of NETs had left due to Hong Kong’s strict zero-Covid strategy.

“There are no substantial grounds for attributing the departure of NETs or their decision to or not to come to teach in Hong Kong to our compulsory quarantine measure,” he told lawmakers in April.

The loyalty requirement was first imposed on civil servants in October 2020, and then extended to government staff hired on contract seven months later.

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