National education in Hong Kong

Catholic schools delay national education too

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 July, 2012, 12:00am

Catholic schools will shun the government's invitation to introduce national education, a day after two other Christian bodies asked for more time to implement the policy.

Antony Ip Sing-piu, an assistant to the episcopal delegate for education, said yesterday that Catholic schools would not introduce the subject 'the way it has been proposed', until a clear set of objectives was drawn up by a recently formed diocesan taskforce looking into the subject.

Ip said that, for now, Catholic schools would not use the HK$530,000 offered by the government to schools that introduced the subject.

'We are responsible to parents and students ... we don't necessarily have to use it [the funding] even if it is given,' he said. Recently, Ip said, Cardinal John Tong-hon wrote a letter to Hong Catholic school principals and supervisors stating that national education should be introduced to Catholic classrooms step by step.

On Tuesday two other Christian denominations running schools asked for more time to implement the initiative, launched in April.

Primary schools are being encouraged to introduce national education teaching as an independent subject this September, while secondary schools are being encouraged to do so by September next year. The subject will become compulsory at primary level in 2015 and in secondary schools in 2016.

The plans have drawn criticism from teachers and students, who fear the course will border on indoctrination.

There is growing debate over how teachers should deal with mainland politics after a set of texts funded by the Education Bureau was found to praise one-party rule.

Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim said yesterday that the texts, by the pro-Beijing National Education Services Centre, were compiled before the government curriculum guidelines were drafted, an apparent bid to play down government involvement in preparing the texts.

Meanwhile, two candidates for the education functional constituency seat said the government should postpone the introduction of national education in September.

Dr Fung Wai-wah, of the Professional Teachers' Union, and Ho Hon-kuen, of Education Convergence, who both signed up as candidates yesterday, said the Education Bureau should launch a full consultation before introducing the course in primary schools in September.

Fung, president of the union, said he would oppose any sort of brainwashing in national education.

Ho called the previous government consultation on the subject oligopolistic.

'Even if we teach students the so-called 'Beijing consensus', the coverage should be comprehensive and also cover the downside,' he said.

Wu Siu-wai, of the Federation of Educational Workers, which is affiliated with the National Education Services Centre, opposed any delay, saying it would create chaos.


The number of Catholic schools and kindergartens in Hong Kong