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Title: Educational duties of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions : past, present and future
Author: Leung Man Kit, Christopher
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2005
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Abstract of thesis entitled: "Educational Duties of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions: Past, Present and Future" submitted by LEUNG MAN KIT, Christopher for the degree of Doctorate of Education (EdD) at the University of Durham in December 2004. In this thesis the argument is developed that workers' trade unions have an important role to play in promoting Lifelong Learning for working people. The thesis demonstrates that trade unions in Hong Kong once did playa strong role in workers' education and that role became less important as time passed. Under the very special circumstances of Hong Kong since 1997, the function and political position of trade unions has altered. They are now in a position to develop their work in workers' education once again. But it cannot be as it was in the past. Hong Kong, like many countries in East Asia is changing fast under the impact of globalisation. This means the context in which trade unions work has changed profoundly. Also, since the early post-war involvement, governmental policies and programmes in education have also evolved in which trade union policies must also adapt. This thesis argues that it is no longer the case that trade unions should supply primary or secondary education as the government now provides it. There remains, however, a real challenge a) to broaden opportunities for learning and b) to promote lifelong learning that works in Hong Kong. That challenge is being met - though not well yet - by trade unions. This study, in brief, examines the work of trade unions in Lifelong Learning. The first 3 chapters indicate that most of the existing workers' education programmes arc organised on a market-oriented basis and there is no shortage of education opportunity for the workers as long as they are willing to learn. Yet there are signs of discrepancy of learning attitude among different social classes with significantly lower participation rate among blue-collar workers. These attitudes are probably related to the lack of social support for the working people, as described from the observation by the trade union leaders that the participation rate is particularly lower while the economic condition is poor: workers have to work harder and longer in order to stay in the workforce. Under the argument that education could assist employment opportunity, the irony is that those who are in danger of unemployment and need to work harder would be the ones who need further education but could not afford the time and resources for education activities. Research based on documents and secondary literature in Chapter 4 to 5 indicates that the Government had accorded workers education with lower priority and adopted "hands-off' approach in promotion of workers education. Historical materials and contemporary documents were consulted together with public debates to reflect such approach in the past. The findings however also show that this has not been changed when entering into new age. Although the Government fonnulates different kinds of educational programmes, both direct operation or monetary, to promote education, the orientation of the Government in promotion is from economic consideration rather than learners' interest. As a result, some social groups cannot benefit from the Government support. On the other hand, the Government, being the major financial source on education, plays a pivotal role of the direction of education. Therefore a large part of the trade union's educational duties depends on how they work with the government and to steer the government's education direction towards a better equal playing field for the workers. This thesis concludes that the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions should assist the workers to develop and embrace a Lifelong Learning attitude, not by simply providing educational programmes, but by exercising its political power to influence the curriculum of the primary and secondary schools in the territory, and to provide guidelines and advice for educational and vocational advancement for the workers while they are young.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available