Teacher flies the flag for discipline and national pride
If there is greater interest among youngsters in the national flag these days, Hui Chun-lung has had a lot to do with it.
The high school teacher has helped 280 schools form their own flag-guards in the past four years.
'Youngsters nowadays understand more about China. They see solo travellers touring around. Even among their peers, an increasing number of them are born or raised in the mainland,' says Mr Hui, president of the Association of Hong Kong Flag-guards.
He says the group was formed to help schools to conduct proper and solemn flag-raising ceremonies.
'Five years after the handover, the government encouraged schools to fly the national flag on campus. But many of the teachers did not know how to do it.'
So Mr Hui and a few interested friends studied flag-flying customs in Tiananmen Square and then drew up guidelines for local schools to follow.
He even designed uniforms for the student flag-guards to help instil a sense of discipline and teamwork.
Mr Hui says that unlike generations who were raised under colonial rule, school pupils today no longer find it strange to hoist the national flag or to sing the national anthem.
'Most schools will fly the flag at least once a month. Some do so on special days such as graduation ceremonies,' he says.
'Government schools even raise them once a week.
'Students also learn the proper ways to deal with the national and regional flags. I remembered a student guard who dived onto the ground to grasp a piece of the national flag as they know it should not touch the ground.'
Mr Hui says that with the strengthening of civic education in schools, more pupils now see the positive sides of the nation, but their understanding of Chinese history is still not sufficient.
'In the 70s and 80s, Chinese history was a compulsory subject in secondary school. But under the NSS [New Senior Secondary] curriculum, Chinese history will become an optional subject. In a practical sense, to join the flag-guards and fly the national flag not only makes them feel proud of the nation but also helps develop self-discipline.'