National education in Hong Kong

'Hold off' on national education for one year

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 August, 2012, 9:15pm

A former member of a government ad-hoc group that helped formulate the national-education policy has urged a one-year suspension on plans to introduce the subject.

Primary school principal Cheung Yung-pong said the government should push back the implementation of the subject so educators would not 'face a dilemma' amid strong opposition.

'We do not object to national education, but the situation has evolved to a degree that we need a way out. We the educators are just sandwiched in between the policy's opponents and the government.'

Cheung, who took part in the now-defunct Ad Hoc Committee of Moral and National Education, added that a committee launched after Sunday's protests should thoroughly review the current curriculum guide, which was drafted in a four-month consultation process.

'We should review, or start another round of consultation, to see whether the guide needs to be revised,' he said.

The government has insisted schools need to start preparing for the new subject this year, before it becomes compulsory in 2015.

The ad hoc committee's head, Professor Lee Chack-fan, said 80 to 90 per cent of those who gave their opinions during the consultation were positive about the plan to introduce it as an independent compulsory subject. Top officials also said that the plan was the result of public consensus.

However, a person who saw the consultation submissions said there was no such consensus.

'To my understanding, it's not true that 80 or 90 per cent of people supported the subject. People did not object to national education, but it does not mean they supported the subject,' the person said.

'Some people were asking why it should not be done through the current civic-education model.'

Cheung yesterday refused to comment on the content of the 1,000 submissions.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reiterated yesterday that the government did not intend to brainwash students through national education, which has been criticised for giving an unbalanced, pro-Beijing view of the political system.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Education Workers, which printed national-education materials branded as biased and distributed them to schools, said funding had been cut.

Wong Kwan-yu, head of the group, said yesterday that two of their government-funded national education centres would no longer receive an annual total of HK$12 million after their contract ended in June.

'We are just victims of political attacks,' he said.