Foreign English-language teachers working in Hong Kong government schools will need to swear allegiance to the city, officials have ordered, as fears grow about the territory’s ability to retain educators in the face of increasing restrictions.
Hong Kong’s education bureau said that native-speaking English teachers (NETs) and advisers working in government-run schools must sign a declaration by June 21 in order to continue working, reports The Guardian.
Since 2020, Hong Kong has applied oath-taking requirements to an increasing number of jobs, mainly those in the public sector, as a way to fulfil Chinese government demands of loyalty. NETs must declare they will bear allegiance to Hong Kong and uphold the Basic Law, the city’s constitutional text, as well as being responsible to the government.
“Neglect, refusal or failure” to sign the declaration would lead to contract termination, authorities said.
The new declaration would “further safeguard and promote the core values that should be upheld by all government employees” and ensure effective governance, the Guardian quoted a government spokesperson as saying. NETs are normally hired on renewable two-year contracts, with monthly salaries that begin at around $4,100.
Hong Kong introduced the NET programme in 1997 to improve students’ language skills, and has gradually made NETs a standard feature in primary and secondary schools. In addition to market-beating salaries, NETs receive government allowances and other incentives to ensure retention, which has been a growing problem in recent years.
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