Nationalism in class

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 May, 2011, 12:00am


Learning to appreciate China will become a core part of a new curriculum which seeks to make nationalistic education a compulsory subject for all schoolchildren in Hong Kong, starting as early as next year.

While the authorities say lessons in 'moral and national education' will promote individual development, critics say such lessons could turn into 'political brainwashing' and promotion of the Communist Party.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen promised to improve Hong Kong students' knowledge of the nation, following remarks by President Hu Jintao during a visit in 2007. Hu spoke about the importance of giving Hong Kong children a better understanding of China's development and identity.

Under the proposal, schools would have to allow about two lessons a week for the new subject.

Students will learn, according to their age, to sing the national anthem, attend national-flag-raising ceremonies, understand the Basic Law, support national sports teams, and appreciate and understand Chinese culture. They will learn about the development of China through studying current affairs.

The subject will also incorporate civic education and personal development, such as learning to be polite and keeping promises.

Performance will be assessed based on the views of teachers, parents and classmates.

Chairman of the moral and national education ad hoc committee under the Curriculum Development Council, Professor Lee Chack-fan, said the subject 'aims to provide students with systematic learning objectives, focusing on developing positive values and attitudes to enhance their personal and national qualities'.

The subject would be introduced in primary schools next year and secondary schools in 2013, according to the committee.

Democratic Party legislator Cheung Man-kwong, who represents the education sector, warned of possible 'political brainwashing'.

'It is more important to give students a comprehensive and true picture of China,' Cheung said. 'National education should not be teaching students to toe the Communist Party's line, but to understand universal values.'

There will be a four-month public consultation on the new lessons that will run until August 31.