Worries that private school boards will deprive schools’ autonomy

law proposing the establishment of school boards in private schools at the non-tertiary level triggered lawmakers’ suspicions during yesterday’s Legislative Assembly (AL) session. However, the law was passed.

The System Framework for Private School Teaching Staff of Non-tertiary Education proposes that the operational entity must establish a school board that will be able to appoint and dismiss the rector, approve the number of permanent school staff, make decisions regarding the school’s teaching policies and development plan, as well as supervise the school’s operation.

The school board will be composed of a minimum of seven members, consisting of the rector, teachers, and parents.

Sulu Sou first criticized the school board for having been established for vested interests.

“How are the teachers and parents selected? How can the schools balance the board?” Sou asked, adding “the generation method of the school board is not transparent enough.”

“Discussion about this law started in the 90s. The appearance of the school board wants to include the parents’ and the teachers’ participation in the school’s management. But [the teachers and the parents] are completely appointed by the school’s organizing entity,” said Au Kam San.

Pereira Coutinho is worried about the school board depriving schools of their autonomy. “To what degree do you want to watch over the schools’ operation? I think the schools should deserve our trust. School autonomy is really important because it allows students to learn more things,” Coutinho said.

“Why can’t we trust the school? The schools should have a mentality of ‘freedom’ and ‘criticism’. But now, [the school board] is watching the schools do things. Then, the schools will also watch the students the way the schools are being watched by the board,” Coutinho noted.

Replying to the lawmakers, the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam, only remarked that, in the past, school boards did not have a parents’ representative, and that the new law includes the parents.

Tam claims that the government wants to push forward the city’s educational standing.

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