SCMP Thursday, September 7, 2000

Teachers set for language-test protest


Updated at 6.49pm:
Five hundred teachers are expected to take part in a lantern-lit demonstration to demand the cancellation of the language benchmark test.
The protest, organised by Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, is to be held on Monday - Teacher's Day and part of the Mid-autumn festival, which is traditionally celebrated with lanterns.
''We urge the government not to show respect to teachers only on one day while humiliating us by setting the benchmark test during the rest of the year,'' said union chairman Cheung Man-kwong.
Last Friday the union called for a cancellation of the October test to allow negotiation but Mr Cheung said Secretary for Education and Manpower Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fan had not responded.
More than 14,000 English and 4,300 Putonghua teachers are required to be benchmarked by 2005, either by sitting a test or taking an accredited training course.
Mr Cheung, who was also the teachers' representative in the former Legislative Council, said the union had collected more than 1,000 signatures from teachers which would be presented to Mrs Law on Monday before she enters the Teachers' Day banquet at the Regent Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Mr Cheung said the teachers' stance was ''as hard as iron'' and they would fight until the government gives in.