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Education News|Early 'summer holiday' affects expatriate English teachers who return home in July/August or need to take no-pay leave (Sing Tao Daily)

  • The early 'summer break' arrangement has disrupted the repatriation schedule of Native English Teachers (NETs) from local schools.

    (Sing Tao Daily) All schools in Hong Kong will start their summer holidays early next Monday. The Education Bureau has allowed international schools to continue to offer online classes so that expatriate teachers can return to their home countries in July and August, but expatriate English language teachers (NETs) teaching in local schools will be greatly affected. The Administration further explained the arrangement yesterday, saying that after the adjustment of holidays, NETs will have to fulfil their contractual obligations and teach until mid-August. Some NETs who had planned to leave Hong Kong for the summer holidays admitted that they could only take leave from their schools, which were planning to arrange no-pay leave. The education workers' union urged the government to provide a substitute allowance so that NETs can return home as scheduled.


    David Savundra from the UK, an expatriate English teacher at the Chinese Missionary Society's Lau Wing Sang Secondary School, planned to return to China to attend his family's wedding in the summer holidays of July and August. However, all schools in Hong Kong took an early "summer holiday" under the epidemic, and the original holiday was turned into a school day, which caused him to lose his budget, and he said, "It is not easy to arrange for a holiday in the summer this year". Having left his home country to teach in Hong Kong, David always wanted to go back to his home country to attend the wedding and "to have a cup of tea and talk with his parents". He planned to ask his school to take leave and leave Hong Kong as scheduled, and stay in Hong Kong during March and April, but he believed that some NETs from other schools had already applied to their schools to return to their home countries.
    Principal hopes to allow flexibility


    Mui Chi Yip, Principal of CNEC Lau Wing Sang Secondary School, described the holiday arrangements for NETs as "a big problem", affecting both teaching arrangements and the school's contract with them. He explained that the contracts of NETs usually start in mid-August, but under the new arrangement, the NETs will have to return to their home countries at a very tight schedule, which may make them unable to come to school in time to fulfil their duties, and he hoped that the government would allow flexibility in the arrangement. As they still have to attend classes from July to August, Mui Chi-yip admitted that even though he appreciated their situation, they might have to apply for no-pay leave by then, and the school might arrange for another NET and other English teachers to substitute for them. He stressed that the NETs would not be required to connect to the Internet overseas, and that "colleagues have their own needs in returning to their home countries, so that they can deal with their personal matters without any worries".


    The EDB further explained the arrangement of advancing the "summer holiday" in the form of "Question and Answer" yesterday. Citing the "seriousness of the global epidemic", the EDB requested that teachers, including NETs, should stay in Hong Kong as far as possible, and if they chose to leave Hong Kong, they should complete the mandatory quarantine or isolation in Hong Kong before the end of the holiday; if NETs are unable to attend classes due to isolation or absence from Hong Kong, they are required to apply for no-pay leave from their schools, and they are not allowed to work at home. The Administration also pointed out that with the adjustment of holidays, the last school day was postponed to 12 August, by which time the contract had not yet ended, and NETs should fulfil their obligations. As for their intention to leave Hong Kong during the summer and book air tickets, it was a "personal arrangement" and should not involve claims or lawsuits.
    Trade unions urge provision of supply allowance


    Wong Kin Ho, Chairman of the Education Workers' Union, pointed out that the advancement of the "summer holiday" arrangement had affected many NETs' plans to return to their home countries, and many of them had already booked their air tickets to leave Hong Kong in July to August, and even though NETs could apply for no-pay leave from their schools, their schools might not approve the application, and the complication was that the contracts signed between some schools and NETs stipulated that NETs would be allowed to return to their home countries in July. He heard that some primary schools had decided to arrange for NETs to return home in July as scheduled, but needed to arrange teaching activities for students during the early "summer holidays". He considered that schools could make reference to this practice and urged the Administration to provide a supply grant to enable schools to arrange for additional teachers to substitute for NETs when NETs were scheduled to return to their home countries.