National lessons 'pose difficulties for ethnic groups'
Ethnic minority and special-needs groups joined yesterday's march against the proposed national education curriculum.
There are roughly 14,000 ethnic minority students in the city who could be made to attend lessons designed to engender national pride in China, not counting those in international schools, which are exempt.
One Hong Kong-born Pakistani girl, Fatimah Bibi, who is now in a local secondary school, said in Cantonese: 'By requiring me to take this class, it seems I will be forced to love China, a country I can't see having any link to me.'
She said the government had made no attempt to consult racial minorities before announcing the policy.
Fermi Wong Wai-fun, executive director of the social justice group Hong Kong Unison, said the new policy may increase racial harassment. 'If Chinese Hongkongers are being told how great their country is, they could look down on classmates from other races,' she said.
Wong called it a forced imposition of identity on non-Chinese locals in the city. Those championing the rights of the mentally disabled were also worried.
Fiona Cheng Shuk-fun was accompanied on the march by her hyperactive son, whose disability was not helped by the hot weather.
'He's as innocent as a piece of white paper,' Cheng said. 'Unlike mainstream students, he and people like him do not have the logical mind needed to judge between right and wrong.'
The Grand Alliance of Parents for the Rights of Persons with Special Education Needs said the subject should be dropped as it was neither sufficiently comprehensive nor objective.
For special needs schools, it would be an unwarranted, additional burden on top of their work to educate students and help them develop the social skills needed to integrate with the community, the alliance said.