SCMP Friday, September 21, 2001

Third of teachers 'might resign if workload rises'


More than one third of teachers would consider quitting if their workload increased and more than 60 per cent want a slowdown in the pace of education reform, according to a survey released yesterday.
Of the 2,779 primary and secondary school teachers interviewed last week, 62.7 per cent said their work pressure was "very great" and more than 10 per cent even claimed they had been facing "unbearable pressure".
Twenty-seven per cent of respondents said they worked for more than 12 hours a day and more than 35 per cent worked for between 11 and 12 hours daily. Nearly 20 per cent work seven days a week.
The survey was carried out by the Professional Teachers' Union after award-winning teacher Yeung Yiu-shing jumped to his death early this month. Yeung, who took up 11 administrative posts in his school - Lingnan Dr Chung Win Kwong Memorial Secondary in Kwai Chung - had been given five months' stress-related sick leave before his death.
About 80 per cent of respondents said the heavy administrative workload was the primary source of their work pressure. About 85 per cent cited "volatile" education policies as a major problem. More than 30 per cent said applications for education funding, such as the Quality Education Fund, was the most time-consuming and least cost-effective task.
Thirty-four per cent of respondents said they would consider resigning or taking early retirement if their workload continued to increase.
Professional Teachers' Union president Cheung Man-kwong described the survey results as alarming.
"Nearly 40 per cent of respondents have been in the teaching profession for more than 20 years," he said.
"The mounting workload may prompt many outstanding and senior teachers to quit their jobs and result in an irreparable loss to schools' operation."
Figures supplied by the Education Department show the overall wastage rate of teachers was four per cent in the 2000/2001 school year.
Sixty-one per cent of teachers interviewed called on the Government to adjust the pace of education and curriculum reform to ease their burden, while nearly 73 per cent hoped the average class size could be reduced.
Mr Cheung, the legislator representing education, said the average class size should be reduced to 30.
On average, primary school classes have about 37 pupils, while the average class size in secondary schools is 40.
"The Government should go beyond empty talk about education ideals and earmark sufficient resources to implement education reform," he said.