The Diocese of Hong Kong Island The Diocese of Eastern Kowloon The Diocese of Western Kowloon The Missionary Area of Macau  
  Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui
Home  |  Contact Us  |  Sitemap     中文  

July 2023
Issue No. 315

Provincial Commission on Education sounds alarm as lack of Christian teachers impacts RE


In response to the call for a better system for evaluating each parish’s evangelistic and missionary work in schools, as noted in the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Education Policy Paper, the Province’s Commission on Education began a study last year to gauge, via a series of online questionnaires, the current situation of how religious education is implemented in the Anglican schools and kindergartens within Hong Kong and Macau. The results are now ready, and were published in May at a seminar held at Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Appearing as guests on the day were three principals, representing a secondary school, a primary school, and a kindergarten. They shared with the attendees their own experiences on implementing religious education at their schools, and the relationship they shared with the parish paired with the school. The Revd Odette Pun was present as well, representing Mung Hua Theological College, and she introduced the diploma courses specifically designed for teachers teaching religious education. She further noted that for eager applicants, she is more than willing to persuade their school’s principal to provide financial support – all for the good cause of encouraging more teachers to better understand the religious education of the Church. 

The Chair of the Commission on Education Yuen Hoi Kau gave a speech on the matter, ‘Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui has been involved in education for more than 170 years. There is an actual need for a periodic evaluation in this vein, to ascertain our current situation. Each school, be they old or new, has its own historical background and plans for future development. As the years roll by, the details of such developments are lost in time. These forgotten things can be valuable, as well as the reason why they are forgotten.’ He continued by saying that this holistic survey serves as a good reminder to us all of the centrality of religious education in the Church’s approach to education. It is an opportunity for all schools to review their own plans and strategy on this subject; if there are things that are forgotten, then now is the time to pick things back up.

The current situation of the Church’s religious education at schools 


Principal Leung Hoi Man, representing the Working Group for the Study, gave a report on its purpose and findings. She noted that the Commission hopes this Study could help both schools and parishes identify their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to implementing their missionary and pastoral ministries.

The questionnaire is structured into two parts: Questionnaire A deals with the basic information of schools, their religious education lessons, and the cooperation between school and parish. One questionnaire A is issued for each school, for a total of 148. From these, 114 schools, or 77% replied. 

Less than 20% of teachers at Anglican schools are Anglicans

The survey results indicate that of the kindergarten, primary school, and secondary school teachers, those who identify as Christian make up 29%, 35.13%, and 29.78% respectively. If we count only those who identify as Anglicans, then the percentages are 17%, 10.46%, and 16.06%. 

For the question on the frequency of the parish’s/missionary area’s school chaplain or youth officer visiting the school, the kindergartens, primary schools, and secondary schools that answered ‘frequently’ make up a percentage of 45.9%, 67.31%, and 88% respectively. This is a clear indication that parishes are not providing enough pastoral support to kindergartens, and the working group recommends the Church to allocate more resources to this end.

Over half of religious education classes in kindergartens taught by non-Christian teachers 

Of note is how due to the lack of Christian teachers, unavoidably there are non-Christian teachers teaching religious education classes in kindergartens, primary schools, and secondary schools. In kindergartens, the proportion of such non-Christian teachers is over half of all religious education teachers. The working group expresses their concern over this observation, and states that both the Church and schools need to increase their support for the religious education of these religious education teachers. In particular, the group suggests that kindergartens can invite church staff to assist in running these classes.

The need for teachers and students to better understand liturgy 

The second part of the study, the Questionnaire B, focuses on the religious education teachers and their views on the current implementation of this subject. Each secondary and primary school is sent five Questionnaires B, and each kindergarten four. They are answered by the teacher in charge of each school and the staff members who teach religious education. Of the 688 questionnaires distributed, 477 replies were received, constituting a reply rate of 69.3%.

Questions were asked under four categories: ‘Ethos and management of religious education’, ‘Lessons and activities for religious education’, ‘Religious atmosphere on campus’, and ‘Liturgy’. 

Overall, colleagues from secondary and primary schools replied positively under the ‘Ethos and management of religious education’ and ‘Lessons and activities for religious education’ categories. There is even feedback wishing that Christian teachers and parish staff could establish nurturing groups for the pastoral ministry of students, and that the school chaplain could take part in the religious education lessons. Most colleagues are also largely satisfied with the religious atmosphere of their school campus, and some suggested that there could be more resources for teachers to understand the educational ethos of the Church. The replies also noted that there is a need for both students and teachers to know more about Anglican liturgy, so that they could engage better during services.

As for kindergartens, other than an ‘adequate’ for the category of ‘Religious atmosphere on campus’, all the other three categories only received a ‘satisfactory’ reply. Due to a lack of resources and cooperation between kindergarten and parish, some replies even indicated difficulties in running religious education classes. There is also the problem of a lack of Christian teachers, and the ensuing difficulty in fully implementing the Anglican ethos of education. There is a need to develop ministries for the benefit of teachers and parents. 

The Working Group of the Study thus concluded on a need for recommending a designated school chaplain: a goal should be set that each school should have one chaplain assigned to it, such that all students can have access to consistent and high-quality pastoral care. It also recommended for a parish-led approach to religious affairs within the campus, strengthened communication between parish and school, that the parish could help in providing religious education within the campus, and the need for better training for religious education teachers. The Church should encourage Anglican youth to join the education sector, and support them in the process as a significant player within Hong Kong’s education system.

The Working Group hopes that by nurturing Anglican youth into teachers and educators, we can in effect also feed new blood into both the Church and schools, and improve the evangelical ministry at campuses. 

After the report, the principals of St Matthias’ Church Chiu Chun Kindergarten, SKH Ho Chak Wan Primary School, and SKH Bishop Baker Secondary School each shared their own experiences and examples in developing religious education at their school, including how they cooperated with their attached parish, and the success and challenges they met.

Professional training course for religious education teachers at Anglican schools 


The seminar closed with an introduction of a professional training course, specifically designed for religious education teachers at Anglican schools. The Revd Odette Pun, Diploma Programme Director of Ming Hua Theological College presented this new initiative, and stressed that the Theological College has not started this course out of the cynical distrust of the current standards of religious education teachers, but rather it is offered by the Church as a means of supporting these teachers.

The training course is designed for currently serving principals, religious education teachers and head teachers, and staff members responsible for evangelism on campus at Anglican secondary schools, primary schools, and kindergartens. The course focuses on Anglican doctrine, liturgy, and educational ethos; it touches upon such topics as the fundamental theories of religious education, ethics, and life and spiritual education. The course also includes in its syllabus such matters as ‘how to create a religious atmosphere on campus’. It is set to be held from October 2023 till July 2024, with a total of 36 hours of lessons. After six weekends/Saturdays, the student submits a written work (sharing their implementation of the course’s contents within their own campus), and participates in a sharing seminar. 

The Revd Poon encouraged not only teachers to apply for the course, but also for schools to provide financial support for any teachers interested. For any enquiries, please contact Ming Hua Theological College, Tel. 2521 7708.


<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 315. Please click here>


Previous ArticleNext Article