National education in Hong Kong

Christian schools skip national education

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 July, 2012, 12:00am

Two Christian organisations will not introduce the controversial national education subject in their primary schools in September.

The opposition by Sheng Kung Hui - Hong Kong's Anglican Church - and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong comes as many people and groups are calling for the course to be scrapped.

'What [the course] is actually aiming at remains unclear. We will continue our existing [teaching] practice until things are clarified,' Timothy Ha Wing-ho, Sheng Kung Hui's education adviser, said recently, referring to class time dedicated to moral teachings.

The church runs about 150 schools. Ha said it had proven difficult to blend national education with a religious curriculum.

Not introducing the subject now 'is not the end of the world', he said. 'Religious groups are already contributing a great deal to promoting moral values.'

Primary schools are being encouraged to offer national education - which aims to instil national pride and civic responsibility - from September, with secondary schools to follow next year. The subject will become compulsory in 2015 at primary level and 2016 in secondary schools.

The head of education at the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Wong Kwok-kong, said yesterday its seven primary schools would 'certainly' not start the subject this year.

'We oppose the instilling of values ... in an irrational manner,' Wong said. 'We need to look at issues from universally accepted perspectives, such as human rights, freedom and equality. Teachers are not ready [for the course].'

The Professional Teachers' Union said the stance by the two religious groups meant there was a greater need to rethink national education.

Union leader Fung Wai-wah, who has called for the subject to be scrapped, said: 'The government should not wait until students refuse to show up in class before it reviews the course.'

The union is collecting signatures from teachers in a bid to force officials to suspend September's launch.

The Catholic diocese, which runs about 80 subsidised primary and secondary schools, said it had set up a task force to study the subject.

A Facebook group calling on parents to oppose the subject has attracted about 2,000 supporters.

National education would go ahead as planned in classrooms under the Buddhist Association and the Islamic Primary School, they said.


The number of local primary schools in 2011-12

- There are 497 local secondary schools