Why Hong Kong teachers don’t feel confident teaching Stem subjects in class

Why Hong Kong teachers don’t feel confident teaching Stem subjects in class

Only a little over one third of teachers surveyed said they felt able to teach science, technology, engineering, and maths well

According to a new survey, only 36 per cent of the city’s teachers are confident about teaching science, technology, engineering, and maths (the Stem subjects). The survey, released on Thursday by the Federation of Education Workers, also said more than 80 per cent feel there aren’t enough resources to do so.

The federation said to tackle these issues, funding of HK$500 million needs to be given to primary and secondary schools each year, and teachers need at least half a year of paid leave for further education.

The federation surveyed 426 schools, gathering responses from teachers in charge of Stem at each school.

Eighty-three per cent of the teachers said they did not have enough Stem training and support, and 82 per cent felt there were not enough resources, and 71 per cent complained about the lack of support for teaching materials.

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Federation committee member Ng Wun-kit said it was worrying that only 36 per cent were confident about teaching Stem.

“But a positive takeaway is teachers are willing to devote time for Stem education, with some even going for training after work,” he added.

An overwhelming 99 per cent of teachers said they would learn more related knowledge, while 90 per cent were willing to spend more time teaching Stem topics.

After taking office in July, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said providing Stem opportunities for students was a key focus. But in her maiden policy address in October, there were no specific proposals made for Stem at primary and secondary level, with more money given only at the university level.

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“The government seemed to want to focus on research and development at university level [for the latest policy address], but I feel that [schools and universities] are all connected,” union chairman Wong Kam-leung said.

He said that if work was not done to improve Stem education at primary and secondary levels, it would affect the university sector.

As such, the group called for the government to allocate HK$500,000 of subsidies to each primary or secondary school each year. It explained that HK$100,000 is intended for hardware, HK$350,000 for support staff, and HK$50,000 for teaching materials.

With around 1,000 public primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong, that would amount to about HK$500 million.

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The union also proposed giving teachers at least half a year of paid leave for further education and flexibility in university entrance requirements for those who do not do so well in core subjects, but are good in Stem.

Lam said in her election manifesto that she would increase recurrent education expenditure by HK$5 billion. So far, only HK$3.6 billion has been handed out, with the government still discussing how to spend the rest.

Lam said in her policy address that the city would double its research and development expenditure to 1.5 per cent in the next five years.

Edited by Ginny Wong

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
No Stem confidence


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