Code for the Education Profession of Hong Kong (Extracted Edition)

Chapter 1: Background and the Formulation Process of the Code

1.1 The Preparatory Committee's Establishment and the Code's Formulation

1.1.1 In 1982, an international panel of experts proposed in its report "A Perspective on Education in Hong Kong" that the professional status of teachers be promoted by setting up a Hong Kong Teaching Service.
1.1.2 The Education Commission Report No. 1 (October 1984) did not support the setting up of a Hong Kong Teaching Service. Instead, it recommended the publication of a "code of practice" for the teaching profession to foster a sense of professionalism.
1.1.3 Following the Education Commission's recommendations (Note 1), the Education Department in June 1987 set up the Preparatory Committee, Professional Code for Educational Works (hereafter called "the Committee") (Note 2) which would replace the visiting panel's suggestion of creating a Hong Kong Teaching Service after their review of the Hong Kong education system.
1.1.4 The Committee worked for 3 years from June 1987 and, after local consultations, the Code was renamed "Code for the Education Profession of Hong Kong" (hereafter referred to as "the Code"). This decision was promulgated in October 1990. (every practising teacher at the time was given a copy of the Code)
1.1.5 The Committee identifies the following as objectives of the Code:
  1. To promote a sense of professional identity among members of the profession.
  2. To enhance morale among members of the profession by formulating a set of recognised ethical standards to which all members of the profession would adhere.
  3. To provide self-disciplinary guidelines for members of the profession by formulating norms of professional conduct.
  4. To establish and maintain high standards in education by providing guidance for members of the profession.
  5. To obtain the community's confidence in and support for the profession by emphasizing the social responsibilities of the profession towards the community.
  6. To elevate the autonomy and social status of the profession through professionalisation.
  7. To promote democratization in educational policy making.
  8. To promote democracy in society.
1.1.6 The Committee believed that concurrent with the formulation of the Code, suggestions as to how the Code should be implemented must be made. It also proposed the establishment of a "General Teaching Council" which would function as a professional body with responsibilities to implement the Code and maintain professional discipline.
1.1.7 The Preparatory Committee suggested that the establishment of the proposed General Teaching Council be carried out in three phases. In 1991, it invited all educational bodies to elect a working party called the "Working Party for the Establishment of the General Teaching Council of Hong Kong". Upon establishment of the Working Party, the Preparatory Committee was dissolved.
1.1.8 In early 1992, the Preparatory Committee and the Working Party submitted to the Education Commission a joint proposal, setting out a framework for developing a GTC.
1.1.9 The Education Commission did not accept the Committee's recommendations but instead in its Report No. 5 (June 1992) recommended the establishment of a non-statutory "Council on Professional Conduct in Education" (hereinafter called "the Council") which would advise the government on measures to promote professional conduct in education; to draft operational criteria defining the conduct expected of an educator, and through consultation to gain widespread acceptance of these criteria among all sectors of the education community; and in the light of the above criteria, to advise the Director of Education in cases of dispute or alleged professional misconduct involving educators. As regards whether or not to set up a statutory professional governing body, this matter should be reviewed in a few years' time.
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1.2 The Establishment of the Council on Professional Conduct

1.2.1 Acting upon the Education Commission's recommendations, the Education Department in April 1994 established the Council on Professional Conduct in Education (Note 3). This Council studied its terms of reference and the Code published in 1990, and acknowledged the difficulty of formulating operational criteria in the absence of concrete precedents which might be used as a basis of reference. Under such circumstances, only a set of more principle-oriented clauses could be drafted. The 1990 Code itself forms an excellent blueprint for this purpose. After wide consultations, the Code was generally accepted by the teaching profession but would not be subjected to amendments before its implementation. Therefore, the Council decided to adopt the said Code for its work.
1.2.2 It has been five years since the Code's promulgation. It is believed that many newcomers to the teaching profession have not had the chance to read through the Code. This Code has been hitherto the sole set of criteria of Professional Conduct for educators and is thus of great importance to each and everyone of them. In view of this, the Council has decided to reprint the full text of the Code's Chapters 2 and 3 (Note 4) for all practising teachers in service in the hope that this would promote professional conduct within the profession.

Note 1: The Commission recommended "the fostering of a sense of professionalism by encouraging teachers, principals, school management and sponsors to co-operate, through the co-ordination of the Education Department, in the writing of a code of practice for the teaching profession. This code would prescribe ethical standards of conduct for teachers in the execution of their professional duties and all registered and permitted teachers would be expected to subscribe to it."
Note 2: In October 1986 the Education Department invited representatives from 63 educational organizations to a meeting to discuss the formation of a Preparatory Committee and to elect representatives to it. Finally these constituent groups elected a total of 25 representatives to form the Preparatory Committee. The first meeting was held in June 1987.
Note 3: The Council has a membership of 28, 14 of whom come from teachers' direct elections, 11 were elected among educational organizations and the remaining 3 appointed by the Director of Education (one being his representative and the two others from non-education sectors).
Note 4: The "Code of the Education Profession of Hong Kong" (Oct. 1990) compiled by the Preparatory Committee, Professional Code for Educational Workers contains four chapters : Chapter 1 being Preamble, Chapter 2 the Code, Chapter 3 Rights of the Education Profession and Chapter 4 Recommendations for Implementation.

(Remarks: On 1 January 2003, the Education Department was subsumed under the Education and Manpower Bureau. The Education and Manpower Bureau was then re-organised as the Education Bureau on 1 July 2007.)

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