A pro-establishment lawmaker has suggested placing CCTV cameras inside schools to check whether or not teachers are making subversive remarks in lessons.
The comments were made by Liberal Party lawmaker Tommy Cheung during a Legco panel on education on the development of textbooks and teaching materials for schools on Friday.
Cheung accused the pan-democrat camp of bringing politics into schools, that there was a problem with Liberal Studies, and that school inspections were not enough to resolve the problem.
"Even if you ask school principals or school management to do inspections, teachers can just switch to an entirely to a different subject as soon as they see you coming," Cheung said.
"I think we should install CCTV because there’s nothing about privacy here; we should be able to record the lessons given by teachers so you can check on them any time, and then you can see whether teachers are bringing politics into their teaching and whether they’re trying to advocate subversion and so on."
In reply, undersecretary for education Choi Yuk-lin said it's up to individual schools what measures they want to take to prevent crime, but they might need to pay attention to privacy laws.
Officials found themselves under fire from both Legco camps at the panel; DAB lawmaker Ann Chiang called the Education Bureau "cowardly" for not daring to do more to monitor schools, and protect pupils from, as she put it, "being instilled with hatred".
Meanwhile, the DAB's Elizabeth Quat said many parents had complained to her about teaching materials containing messages of hate against the police, saying that materials used for General Studies should be assessed by a professional panel.
Choi said the bureau would consider this, adding that officials have already provided consultative services for publishers revising their textbooks for the next school year.
The official said the bureau has been liaising with schools closely over the matter, and that teachers might be disqualified if serious misconduct is involved.
"When we receive complaints about problematic teaching materials, we would ask the schools to stop using them immediately, and take them back and make amendments or even make public statements to clarify, and to give an account to parents to alleviate their concerns," Choi said.
"For serious cases or if there are any negligence on the school’s part, we would ask them to ask the school to reiterate our guidelines and our mechanism to the teachers in the meetings, and also we would ask the schools to raise the sensitivity of review the teaching materials ."
But education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said teachers are facing political pressure from the pro-government camp.
He also criticised the panel's chairwoman, Regina Ip, for bringing the teaching materials issue to the top of the meeting agenda, knocking out an item on STEM education at the same time.
Arguments over what the meeting should focus had earlier led to Regina Ip throwing out Ted Hui, Helena Wong, Claudia Mo and Tanya Chan. The four pan-dems confronted her and Mr Hui splashed water on her before they all eventually left.