Teachers stand up against 'moral lessons'
The city's biggest teachers' union has called on the government to scrap its plan to introduce mandatory moral and national education classes at schools after a survey of more than 2,000 of its members found widespread opposition to the proposal.
The pro-democracy Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, which claims a membership of 80,000, or 90 per cent of all the city's teaching professionals, says the poll found 70 per cent were against the move.
Union officials also criticised the government for carrying out consultation over the move in a 'condescending' way and called for a new round of talks.
'If we have to speak in terms of grading requirements, this document [proposing the new curriculum] would be given a 'fail',' said James Hon Lin-shan, deputy director of the union's rights and complaints department.
The union says the 200-page document was written with political intent, without considering educational needs or the workload of education professionals.
The survey also found that more than 85 per cent of respondents feared the extra workload would further burden already stretched school administrations and teaching staff.
Fung Wai-wah, the union's president, said teachers opposed the government's proposal as it 'emphasised building national identity' without developing students' critical thinking.
'The union and teachers actually support moral and national education - when it is done the right way. However, we think that education is being used as a political tool in this case and will be detrimental to real citizenship education,' said Fung.
Ninety per cent of teachers surveyed thought that developing students' ability to think for themselves was crucial to a successful citizenship and moral education. Also, 67 per cent stated that they were 'worried' or 'very worried' that the subject could brainwash students.
Fung said true moral and citizenship education should be focused on helping students build all-round knowledge of their nation - which could be done by fine-tuning existing subjects like Chinese history - and to aid students in developing their critical-thinking capacities.
Good moral and national education should help students form a healthy understanding of their identity, but also help them develop an awareness of being 'global citizens'.
Fong King-lok, who teaches liberal studies at a secondary school in Tsuen Wan, accused the government of being insincere when conducting its consultations.
'Government officials maintained a condescending tone' during a consultation with teachers in June which was more like an advertisement, he said. There was a two-hour presentation and only half an hour given over for questions, Fong added.
An Education Bureau spokesman said the government would take into consideration all suggestions made by the public, and make changes where necessary.
The amount of teachers against the moral and national lessons plan
- 2,383 of 80,000 union members were surveyed