'De-registered teacher was kind and always joking' - RTHK
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'De-registered teacher was kind and always joking'

2020-11-13 HKT 13:47
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  • 'De-registered teacher was kind and always joking'
  • One of the teacher's comments flagged up by the authorities is very similar to something that appeared in an earlier Education Bureau video.
    One of the teacher's comments flagged up by the authorities is very similar to something that appeared in an earlier Education Bureau video.
Priscilla Ng reports
Parents were divided on Friday as to whether the authorities were right to strike off a primary teacher – ostensibly for making up historical facts in lessons – while a pupil at the school in Tsz Wan Shan described the saga as upsetting.

Journalists chased after parents and students for their reaction to the dismissal as they went into Ho Lap Primary, a day after the Education Bureau announced that the teacher had been de-registered for life.

Not everyone was willing to speak to the media, but one parent expressed support for the teacher, saying de-registering him was too strong a punishment.

"It's definitely not fair, but things work this way now in Hong Kong," the man said, adding "there's nothing we can do".

Another parent, however, said that if the teacher's conduct had genuinely harmed the students, then the authorities had made the right call.

"If students are affected, it should be right," the woman surnamed Kwok told RTHK.

Kwok added, however, that she was unclear about what exactly the teacher had said that was so unacceptable.

A boy in primary five at the school, meanwhile, said he was upset about what had happened as the teacher involved was very kind.

"[I am] a bit sad... he always told us jokes," the boy said.

The Education Bureau said the teacher provided "factually incorrect and peculiar voiceovers” for video lessons for students at a time when they were being taught online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The teacher was said to have claimed that Western powers had waged the Opium Wars against the Qing dynasty in the mid-19th century to “remove opium from China”, and that the invention of paper in ancient China was to stop people from writing on tortoise shells to “prevent them from becoming extinct”.

However, the second of these examples of alleged wrongdoing is very similar to a joke made in a video prepared by the bureau's own curriculum resources section.

“If I had to inscribe words onto turtle shells whenever I write something, how many turtles would I need?” a presenter asked.

“If I had to catch turtles to write every day, wouldn’t turtles go extinct quickly?” another presenter added.

Responding to an RTHK enquiry, the bureau said the presenters were using a “humorous tone” when they spoke, and did not assert that the invention of paper was to prevent animals from going extinct.

A spokesman said anybody who had watched the video would have understood that it was meant as a dramatic way of introducing the next topic, and the issue should not be “distorted as an excuse to shed responsibilities”.

Last month, another teacher was de-registered for life for allegedly preparing pro-Hong Kong independence materials for use in classes at a school in Kowloon Tong.