Education Convergence
A Survey on the NET Scheme


The NET scheme is newly implemented by the Education Department in the academic year 1998-99 aiming to enhance the English standard of local secondary students. As problems of the scheme arose early at the recruitment stage, school find it difficult to recruit NET which makes the schools difficult to schedule work for the academic year 1998-99. Complaints are frequently made from our counterparts on the implementation of NET scheme. Education Convergence carried out a survey in early February to elicit the views of NETs on the NET scheme.

A. Survey Method

The questionnaire was designed by Education Convergence mainly to elicit the views of the NETs. In February 1999, the questionnaire was sent to all the secondary schools in Hong Kong to invite the NETs to fill out and complete. 142 questionnaire are returned and the response rate is 38%

B. Finding of the survey

(in percentage according to the response in different items)

1. Country of Origin





New Zealand










2. Age









3. Sex







4.     Previous teaching Experience (no. of years)



more than 20




5. Recruitment







6. Teaching duties started















7. Average banding of the school taught







8. Recruitment Procedure

44% agree and strongly agree that it has been a long time before he/she was informed of the interview.

75% agree and strongly agree that it took too long to process his/her application.

9. Background Information to NETs

64% of the NETs opined that they were not provided with sufficient information about the educational system of Hong Kong

59% claimed that they were not provided with sufficient information about the classroom situation

62% opined that they were not provided with sufficient information about the English standard of the students

39% also opined that they were not provided with sufficient information about the NET scheme.

47% opined that they were not provided with sufficient information about the living in Hong Kong.

10. Induction Programme

81% of the NETS claimed that the induction programme provided by the government was useful

80% agreed that the schools have provided them with sufficient information through the schools' induction scheme.

11. General Comments about the school

97% opined that their colleagues are helpful. 98% of the principals were opined as supportive.

87% claimed that their workload is reasonable and 86% satisfied with their working environment.

12. Plan to quit the present job

48% said that they would continue their present job. 31% said that they would quit and 19% opined that it is too early to decide. 1% said that they would resign recently and another 1% opined that they would resign at the end of the academic year.

C. Other comments

Apart from the statistics, the respondents also give valuable comments on major difficulties they have encountered and suggestions to improve the NET scheme. The followings are some direct quotings from the questionnaires and the numbering is based on the coding of the questionnaires e.g. “1” means the first questionnaire received.

1. Major Difficulties

Teacher 3 : "Too many students to teach."

Teacher 5 : disciplinary problems, extremely low English proficiency and lack of motivation to learn English.

Teacher 13 : I find I am spread very thinly at work - how can I help EVERY student improve their spoken English? I have been given an impossible task. Also daily problems about daily procedures events etc.(Nobody informs me about anything here - it's very frustrating)

2. Suggestions

Teacher 4 : Consistency in the employment of NETS - equal working conditions and demands would make a fairer scheme.

Teacher 5 : give better guidelines to schools on how to utilize NETS, shorten the induction programme by focussing on practical information instead of theoretical

Teacher 13 : I question my value at a Band 5 school. If I am to be utilized to the best of my ability - then I need to teach students who are willing to learn English.

Teacher 27 : May be a video of some of the 'real' lessons in programmes with larger classes. A visable support network to help new teachers who may be facing problems in dealing with school work and life.

3. Other comments

Teacher 5 : I think NETS would be most useful in higher banding schools, as they would be able to focus more on teaching instead of discipline. It can be challenging to teach where students openly rebel against NETS and have no desire to learn English.

Teacher 6 : I feel the HK education system is going through a metamorphosis. Hopefully we are going to see some positive changes. I want to help in the transition period, especially helping some of the local teachers adapt to new ideas. My principal and panel chair are very open to change so I want to help. But it is going to take more than 2 years, so I want to stay and help finish the job. 

E. Our Recommendation

1.     We recommend the Education Department to review the strategies and cost-effectiveness of the government recruitment process.

(In the initial phase before the summer vacation about 70 NETS did not turn up, and in the second phase in November only about 30 finally arrived, in spite of the investment of considerable amount of resources , including sending recruitment teams overseas.)

Some areas which obviously need attention include :

a.     the efficiency of processing application (earlier arrangement of interviews, quicker assessment of qualifications.)

b.     sufficient background information for the applicants: (education system of Hong Kong, classroom situation, English standard of students, NET scheme, life in Hong Kong)

2.     We recommend that the Education Department should review the qualification requirement together with the market situation. The vision is no doubt to recruit qualified and competent native-speaking teachers, but balance has to be made between the qualification requirement set, and the market supply.

3.     We recommend the Education Department as well as individual schools to exchange experience of ‘good practice’ related to NET. These include school-based induction for NET, arrangements to ‘liberate’ the expertise of NET, teaching time-table schedule for NET, extracurricular activities conducted by NET etc.

In this survey, many NETs have pointed out the difficulties of they faced in schools with students of lower bandings, however, some NETs in these schools were satisfied with the teaching and learning situation. It would be worthwhile to have experience shared among these schools.

4.     We recommend the Education Department to review the effectiveness of the NET scheme as soon as possible, for improvements as well as justifications of the provision of additional NETS in CMI schools, and NETS in primary schools.

5.     As 2% of NETS in the survey plan to quit, 31% will leave the school after the completion of the contract and 19% undecided, it is urgent for the Education Department to look into the reasons behind and take action to tackle the problem. Otherwise, a high turn-over rate will be foreseen which would surely be harmful to our schools.

Education Convergence
14th March,1999