HK govt to start national education in schools

By Li Ruohan and Fan Lingzhi in Hong Kong Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/4 20:33:39

Members of the Hong Kong Academy of School Managers attend a lecture on China's space exploration ahead of the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong's return. More than 600 students listened to the lecture held at the Fukien Secondary School Affiliated School. Photo: Fan Lingzhi/GT

Ken, a 16-year-old high school student in Hong Kong, never imagined he would have to hide his support for the Chinese mainland while studying in the city.

But he says he now keeps his views to himself as he fears being isolated or bullied by his classmates, many of whom are pro-independence.

Compared with his schoolmates who only get to know the history of the mainland until 1840 in their school textbooks, Ken said he has deeper understanding of the country as he was born in East China's Jiangsu Province and regularly goes back to his hometown.

Ken's concerns are shared by Viola, the mother of two primary school boys in Hong Kong who told the Global Times that she is worried and confused about why some young people are so angry toward the mainland.

She said she blames this on a lack of education about the history of China in Hong Kong's public schools

The rampancy of "Hong Kong independence" proves that "national education" must be restarted by the new regional government, Tang Fei, a member of the Beijing-based Chinese Association of Hong Kong & Macao Studies, told the Global Times.

A citizen of where

Students in Hong Kong are currently only given civil education, said Tang, which only teaches the rights of a citizen, but does not emphasize understanding their country and its history.

According to a class schedule listed on the website of Heung To Middle School, the class "Chinese history" is only available to senior high school students and whether or not they run the class is dependent on the number of students who select the course and faculty resources.

However the class only teaches ancient and recent history, while the history of China after 1840 which would include events such as the First Opium War (1840-1842) is not included, according to students.

Chinese history is a compulsory class in mainland junior high schools and is tested in senior high school entrance examinations in most regions. The course is compulsory for senior high school art students and they are tested during college entrance examination.

Under such circumstances, Hong Kong students' education about modern China is mostly included in their "general education" course, which is designed to develop students' practical skills and common sense. It normally includes sections on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, interpersonal communication, globalization, public health and sustainable development.

However, the content of the course is decided by individual teachers. Parents have expressed concern that the region's teachers - who are mostly members of or highly influenced by the pro-independence Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union - are unlikely to give a balanced or neutral perspective on Chinese history to students.

The course's China section is sometimes taught via lectures from public figures or activities, which cannot give students a comprehensive understanding of modern China, said Tang, who is also the principal of Heung To Middle School.

Gain legitimacy

The new regional administration has sworn to try to diminish conflicts and misunderstandings between the youth of the region and the mainland.

Before Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor took office as Hong Kong's chief executive, she repeatedly argued the young generation must see themselves as Chinese citizens and called for the strengthening of "national education."

To do this, the new government will first have to legitimize national education, which was attacked in anti-national education protests in 2012, Tang said.

The Hong Kong education authorities tried to introduce such courses in 2012 but protests erupted which claimed that this would have amounted to "brainwashing" the youth.

Though the then Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying repeatedly said the education policy was not a political mission and it should not be controversial for students to learn about their country, the plan was suspended.

Meanwhile, the education sector should not fear advocating national education in Hong Kong, said Tang.

The most dangerous thing about the pro-independence movement is that the younger generation are isolating themselves from the outside world and refusing to communicate with those who hold different opinions, Tang claimed.

"Pro-independence in Hong Kong is not about 'being independent' for better self development, but about 'leaving me alone' and not interacting with others, which is a 'toxic' mindset for the young generation," Tang added.

Newspaper headline: Learn to love China

Posted in: SOCIETY

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