Pot calls kettle black in education row

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 July, 2012, 12:00am

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I don't know if it's really a good idea to add national education to our children's heavy workload. As a parent, I think it will be a waste of time. But calling it brainwashing seems like an exaggeration. Any material that publishers come up with will be accused of bias. But if we call teaching biased material to young children brainwashing, then many things we have been taught and are still teaching must also qualify as such.

Early this week, an advertisement signed by about 1,000 parents, scholars, artists and others appeared in several newspapers urging the government not to introduce national education in September. Among the signatories were the usual suspects, including Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong. A rally is planned tomorrow. Their campaign has morphed into a major political cause. I think Hong Kong faces far more urgent challenges than this.

Last week, three Christian groups including the Catholic Church announced they won't introduce national education in schools they run in September. Well and good, they have every right to refuse and I, a lapsed Catholic, support them. But it's the sound and fury of Cardinal Zen - who was among the first to liken the curriculum to 'brainwashing' - that I find puzzling. It has been part of his long-standing conspiracy theory that the government's education reform to introduce more accountability in non-government schools is a hidden agenda to brainwash children and control schools. He once asked: 'Does national education mean unconditional support for the Communist Party?' Well, actually no.

But does teaching children such improbable events as the Resurrection, miracles, the Second Coming, the Holy Trinity and the creation of the world in six days amount to brainwashing? Does being a Catholic mean unquestioning support for the Vatican? Perhaps Zen cares to give an unbiased account of the Vatican's continuing international crackdown on progressive priests and nuns, and its long history of covering up paedophile priests over decades on four continents. I would send my kids to take his class.