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致吳克儉公開信:敦促教育局撤回對教師警告

2016/8/22 — 8:26

吳克儉(資料圖片)

吳克儉(資料圖片)

香港添馬添美道二號 
政府總部東翼十一樓 
香港特別行政區政府
教育局局長吳克儉先生 SBS, JP

2016年8月22日

尊敬的吳局長:       

廣告

回應教育局近日對教師發出警告之公開信

根據不同的新聞報導,教育局 (「局方」) 近日發出警告,警告裏表示教師如被發現在校內鼓吹港獨思想或會被取消註冊教師資格。 根據局方的警告,該等行為構成「違法或失德」。局方更提醒本地學校的法團校董會有責任提醒它們的教師應以《基本法》為基礎,不能在校園宣揚港獨。 

廣告

法政匯思謹此來函促請局方撤回該警告,並向教師充分保證其言論自由將受到保護。我們的理據如下。

首先,我們注意到《教育條例》(「該條例」) 並無任何條文容許有關當局因教師宣揚某種政見(例如港獨)而取消其註冊資格。

該條例第47條已列明取消教師註冊的理由。該條規定教員如「不稱職」或其行為「足以構成專業上的失當行為」, 其註冊才可被取消。

對於就教師純綷向學生提出港獨議題便構成專業上的失當行為或被視為不稱職的任何建議,我們均表示強烈反對。

香港教育專業守則(「該守則」)清楚表明一位教育工作者:    

(1)應激勵學生探究及獲取知識的精神(見第2.2段);

(2)可以與學生討論有爭議性的話題,但應盡量保持客觀(見第2.2.13段) ;

(3)應鼓勵學生獨立思考,並以知識作為基礎而作出理性的判斷(見第2.2.14段);

(4)應培養學生民主精神並教育學生尊重他人(見第2.2.18段); 

(5)應注意時事,關心社會問題(見第2.6.6段);

(6)當公眾意見分歧時,應教導學生尊重不同的立場和觀點(見第2.6.7段);

(7)應把尊重人權的教育視為要務(見第2.6.8段);及

(8)應致力培養學生的自由、和平、平等、理性及民主等意識(見第2.6.9段)。

故此, 培養學生對事情作獨立思考及就社會不同觀點(包括一些與政府相反的立場)作批判性的討論,其實是教育工作者的責任之一。局方現在竭力禁制某些政治觀點的討論,正正跟教師的責任背道而馳。

我們更必須指出,根據現行法律,僅是宣傳港獨並不構成刑事罪行。

按照上面所述,我們完全看不到局方有任何法律理據可以將純粹宣傳港獨等同於「不法活動或不當行為」。

在這種情況下,我們對於局方對教師的恐嚇性警告感到極度失望。這不僅是因為此等警告沒有任何法律基礎,此等警告也只會扼殺自由討論,而這正是直接違背了該守則所維護的價值。

因此,我們敦促局方撤回其警告,並且向教師提供充分的保證-正如《基本法》、人權法案、以及該守則所承諾的保障一樣-以確保所有的教師都有權擁有言論自由,以及在課堂內可以提供一個培養批判性思考和辯論的環境的自由,而此等環境更應包括談論具有爭議性的議題。

此致

法政匯思

 

Mr. Eddie Ng Hak-kim SBS JP,
Secretary for Education,
The Government of the HKSAR,
11/F, East Wing, Central Government Offices,
2 Tim Mei Avenue, Tamar,
Hong Kong.

22 August 2016

Dear Mr. Ng,

An Open Letter on the Bureau’s Recent Warning to Teachers

According to recent reports, the Education Bureau (“the Bureau”) has warned that teachers may lose their qualifications if they are found to have promoted Hong Kong independence in schools. According to the Bureau, such conduct constitutes “unlawful activity or misconduct”. The Bureau has also asked the Incorporated Management Committees of local schools to remind their teachers not to advocate the idea of independence in schools, on the basis that this violates the Basic Law.
We write to urge the Bureau to withdraw its warning, and instead provide full assurance to teachers that their freedom of speech will be protected. Our grounds are as follows.

First and foremost, we note that there is nothing at all in the Education Ordinance (“the Ordinance”) that allows for the de-registration of a teacher simply because he or she has promoted a certain political view, such as Hong Kong independence.
Section 47 of the Ordinance sets out the grounds for cancellation of a teacher’s registration. It provides that the registration of a teacher may be cancelled if the teacher has behaved in a way which “constituted professional misconduct” or is “incompetent”.

We strongly disagree with any suggestion that a teacher would be guilty of professional misconduct, or regarded as incompetent, simply by virtue of the fact that he has raised the topic of Hong Kong independence with his students.
The Code for the Education Profession of Hong Kong (“the Code”) makes it clear that a teacher:

(1) Should endeavour to stimulate the spirit of inquiry and the acquisition of knowledge in his students (see paragraph 2.2);
(2) May discuss controversial matters with students provided that he adopts an objective viewpoint so far as possible (see paragraph 2.2.13);
(3) Should encourage students to think independently and to form their rational judgments based upon knowledge (see paragraph 2.2.14);
(4) Should foster among students a sense of democracy and educate them to respect others (see paragraph 2.2.18);
(5) Should be aware of current affairs (see paragraph 2.6.6);
(6) Should teach students to respect different positions and opinions in matters over which public opinion is divided (see paragraph 2.6.7);
(7) Should treat as a primary duty the teaching of respect for human rights (see paragraph 2.6.8); and
(8) Should nurture in students the concepts of freedom, peace, equality, rationality, and democracy (see paragraph 2.6.8).

Thus, contrary to the Bureau’s efforts to ban discussion of certain political viewpoints, it is in fact part of a teacher’s duty to foster independent thinking and critical debate on different perspectives within society – including those that may not be aligned with the Government’s position.

We would also point out that mere advocacy of Hong Kong independence is not a criminal offence under the current law.
In light of the above, we entirely fail to see any legal justification for the Bureau to equate mere advocacy of Hong Kong independence with “unlawful activity or misconduct”.
In the circumstances, we are extremely dismayed at the Bureau’s intimidating warning towards teachers, which is not only without any legal foundation, but will also only serve to stifle free discussion – which is in direct contradiction to the values enshrined in the Code.

We therefore urge the Bureau to withdraw its warning, and instead provide full assurance to teachers that, as guaranteed by the Basic Law, the Bill of Rights, and the Code, all teachers are entitled to freedom of speech and to foster an environment of critical thinking and debate within their classroom, including regarding controversial issues.

Yours sincerely,


Progressive Lawyers Group

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