Bring back Chinese history, say lawmakers
Pan-democrats called on the government yesterday to resurrect Chinese history as a compulsory subject for junior secondary pupils instead of inserting national education into the curriculum for primary and secondary schools.
But the demand, tabled in the Legislative Council as an amendment, was rejected by the pro-establishment camp.
Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung reiterated that there is no brainwashing involved in the national education subject and that teachers would not have to avoid discussing any topic with pupils.
'I think it is irresponsible not to emphasise a few thousand years of history of China while pushing for national education,' lawmaker Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said.
Unionist legislator Lee Cheuk-yan said the best way to understand the country was through learning its history.
Since 2000, secondary schools have been allowed to decide whether to make Chinese history a compulsory subject for pupils from Form One to Form Three. A survey by watchdog Education Convergence found that about 120 out of some 500 secondary schools no longer make Chinese history compulsory for junior secondary school pupils.
In 2001, the authorities ordered schools to teach Chinese history-related topics in junior secondary, but the total time allocated need only be 5 per cent of total school hours.
Yesterday's motion was moved by the Democrats' Albert Ho Chun-yan, who said national education should truly depict the state of affairs on the mainland and include sensitive topics like the June 4, 1989, crackdown.
Tam Yiu-chung of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said the pan-democrats were unreasonably opposed to national education, which he described as a meaningful subject.