Extremism threatens HK students

By Yang Sheng Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/13 21:13:41

Education reform key for long-term economic recovery: experts

A masked rioter is standing out among his group in a standoff with police outside the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, November 17, 2019. Photo: Xinhua

Extreme political ideology that would incite Hong Kong youth to conduct illegal activities and discriminate against mainlanders is back at school, as Hong Kong residents are worried that the teenagers would be infused with radical anti-government and separatist views.

At some schools in Hong Kong, posters with anti-government slogans and pictures to stigmatize the police have appeared, and among social media networks, the anti-government forces have launched a cyber manhunt by posting the personal information of mainland students and teachers with different political views, and radical protesters even incite students to bully and harm those with pro-government ideas.

This situation has brought concerns to many Hong Kong residents as they worry the campus would be transformed into a dangerous and radical arena for politics instead of a place for children to learn and exchange diverse views.

The Education Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) announced on May 5 that since the COVID-19 epidemic is under control in Hong Kong, schools and kindergartens are able to reopen gradually. Senior high school students will return to school on May 27, junior and primary schools will reopen on June 8, and nursery schools and kindergartens on June 15.

"Although the epidemic is under control, the 'political virus' in some people's minds still exists. I am worried about my son because he was born in the mainland, and those radical students and teachers are encouraging the   school to target those who disagree with them," said a Hong Kong resident surnamed Lau, who is a mother of a 16-year-old middle school student.

Some radical students and teachers posted private information of their pro-government colleagues online, including their mobile number, home address, family members and statements they made in the past, which is spreading fear among teachers and students.

A graduate of Chiu Lut Sau Memorial Secondary School of Hong Kong who requested anonymity told the Global Times that she found the cyber manhunt was against pro-mainland or pro-government school heads and teachers, as well as some students on the social media group of the school alumni, and she is very angry as she doesn't want to see the school become a place to divide people and spread hatred. 

She said many parents and graduates have reported the situation to school officials, but the officials have failed to effectively solve the problems, and "they always say they have noticed the problems and will talk to the relevant teachers and students. I hope the people with influence can learn how serious the situation is and do what they can to protect the students from radical thoughts."

A spokesman for the HKSAR government on Monday urged underage people to stay away from high-risk protests and stop participating in any news reporting activities at the scene of protests, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

During a protest in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday, a 12-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl told the police that they were volunteer reporters at the scene. In view of their safety, the police took them to a police station without arresting them. The police subsequently contacted their guardians to pick them up.

"It is extremely dangerous for underage people to conduct news reporting activities at scenes of protests as student journalists," said the spokesman. Analysts noted education reform is essential for the HKSAR to solve the problem, and the government must push the reform without compromise to the radical forces.

The future of a controversial "liberal studies" course for teenagers in schools will be decided as part of a wide-ranging review of the education system, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in an interview with the Hong Kong-based paper Ta Kung Pao on Monday.

Lam said there were people in schools who had deliberately misled students with false and one-sided information, and this was not just limited to liberal studies but other subjects as well, including Putonghua and English.

Ta Kung Pao reported on Wednesday that a survey of 5,600 parents in Hong Kong showed that 98 percent of the participants are very unsatisfied with liberal studies. Analysts noted that the education reform is essential for the city to restore public order and realize economic recovery in long term. 

Witman Hung Wai-man, a Hong Kong deputy to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), told the Global Times that education reform is a responsibility of the HKSAR government, and the Education Ordinance of Hong Kong forbids teachers from spreading political opinions to students. So the government and the schools are committed to fixing the problem by punishing teachers who spread their radical ideas to students or incite students to join illegal activities.

"But due to pressure from opposition groups and anti-government forces in the society, it is difficult for the government to fix the problems," he noted. 

Hung also noted that the Hong Kong deputies of the NPC also prepared proposals related to promoting patriotism education in the city for the upcoming annual plenary session of the NPC which will kick off on May 22.

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