Salaries not making the grade
In the mid-1990s, the government became concerned about the professionalism of kindergarten teachers. The Reform Proposals for the Education System in Hong Kong, issued by the Education Commission in 2000, included five key reform components for early childhood education, including enhancing professional competence.
The commission proposed to raise the professional standards of early childhood educators through training and higher entry requirements. This was a clear message to society that the government was focusing on early childhood education, and it was no doubt a positive message to young people wanting to develop their career in the sector.
Nowadays, however, early childhood education is still beyond the scope of free education. As most kindergartens are non-profit-making and operate with limited resources, teachers’ salaries are quite low. This is unfair to teachers and affects quality and stability in the sector. Hence, the sector will keep campaigning for 15 years of free education, including the pre-primary levels.
Dr Gail Yuen Wai-kwan, assistant professor, Department of Education Policy and Leadership, Hong Kong Institute of Education
As told to Chiu Po-sze