Law amendment proposes reduced lecture hours for public teachers

The Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Ao Ieong U, brought the amendment of law no. 67/99/M to the Legislative Assembly (AL) for approval yesterday. The law concerns teachers working for public schools.
As of today, the law has been in force for more than 20 years.
Overall, the amendment aims at reducing the length of teachers’ lecture times; proposes regulations in regards to performance assessment of teachers; updates policies concerning teachers’ absence and sick leave; and proposes a “study leave” scheme for teachers.
Lawmaker Chan Hong supported the amendment, arguing that the proposed policies mean that public teachers will “spend less time lecturing classes.” In addition, Chan also questioned permanent contracts.
The Macau SAR government introduced a “permanent” administrative employment contract, which is a contract signed between the SAR government and “experienced and excellent civil servants” in order to protect these employees’ careers. Such contracts involve higher compensation for the civil servants in the event that they are unreasonably fired.
“Right now, it is really difficult for public teachers to [transfer] to the permanent administrative contract,” Chan commented. She asked how the SAR government will design the regulations to address this specific goal.
For the first time, the amendment proposed a mechanism to handle the situation of public teachers seeking medical treatment outside of Macau. The amendment defines seeking medical services in Macau and seeking medical services outside of Macau as distinct situations.
Chan wondered whether this new prescription means public teachers will have reduced welfare.
While explaining the prescription, Secretary Ao Ieong acknowledged that the policy is different from the policy for civil servants, and that, once the amendment comes into effect, public teachers asking for leave to receive medical services outside of Macau will be handled differently to civil servants.
According to Ao Ieong, in general, civil servants work 36 hours a week. During these working hours, if they take sick leave, such individuals are required to compensate for the hours they were away from work by working at another time.
However, public teachers can adjust class arrangements to make up for missed hours.
Lawmaker Sulu Sou also raised questions concerning public teachers’ working hours.
One of the new prescriptions proposes that teachers can take “study leave” if they pursue further education or training. However, school leaders are excluded from this specific allowance.
“The leaders might question why they can’t take the study leave when their subordinates can,” lawmaker Song Pek Kei pointed out. Song said that the leaders might think, “I don’t even have the right to take study leave, so how can I develop myself?”
Song wants the government to provide the “same treatment, encouragement and support” for both leaders and teachers.
Responding to Song, Ao Ieong U said that leaders of public schools are appointed for a fixed number of years, which makes it difficult for leaders to take study leave.
“If a person in charge is appointed for a one-year term and the person takes study leave during that year, what’s the meaning of the appointment?” Ao Ieong asked.

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