HONG KONG: Disillusioned school teachers, who feel threatened by Beijing's strict national security law enacted in June 2020, are leaving Hong Kong.
"I told my school if, one day, some students downstairs chant slogans and I would have to call the police to arrest my own students, I could not do that," said Fong, a 45 year old teacher who has emigrated to the U.K.
According to school principals contacted by Reuters, this year teachers are leaving the profession at twice the normal rate.
This past July, the Hong Kong Association of Heads of Secondary Schools warned the government that a "brain drain" would reduce the quality of education in Hong Kong.
"The education environment has changed quite drastically over the past two years," principal Samuel Cheng from the United Christian College - Kowloon East told Reuters.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Education Bureau told Reuters that the national security law has not affected the education sector or quality of teaching, claiming teachers have left the schools to pursue other jobs or studies or for other personal reasons.
However, the Professional Teachers' Union, Hong Kong's largest union before being disbanded, said a survey it conducted in May showed 40 percent of teachers expect to leave the schools.
China's leaders have focused on reforming Hong Kong's education system, claiming the often-violent pro-democracy demonstrations of 2019 were led by local youths.
In February, Hong Kong imposed a new school curriculum that required children aged 6 and over to learn about China and the new national security law. Also, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said teachers who are "bad apples" must be removed from the schools.
Before the teachers' union was disbanded, former president Fung Wai-wah told Reuters, "The education sector is taking a hit because those with experience are leaving in droves."