Gap between pupils' and officials' expectations
What would students learn in 'national education' classes?
According to the consultation draft of the Education Bureau's 300-page curriculum guide for the course of study formally being called Moral and National Education, the subject would instil positive values and attitudes so as to 'facilitate identity building' through developing 'affection for the country'.
Students would be expected to lead a 'meaningful' life after the course, which will prepare them to face the world with a 'foothold in Hong Kong while receiving support from the motherland'.
A supplement to the guide says students would be expected to feel for Chinese athletes who shed tears in front of the national flag in international sporting events and be knowledgeable about Chinese heritage.
The guide also suggests websites that, the Bureau says, could become teaching materials. One is entitled, 'How to be a happy Chinese'.
There would be no examinations, but students might evaluate their classmates. On a proposed evaluation form, one has the chance to rate others on whether they have 'demonstrated the desirable qualities of a national citizen' and whether they 'learn actively'.
Teachers, meanwhile, can assess whether students 'realise Chinese virtues such as filial piety, integrity and thrift' and 'broaden [their] horizons to affirm national identity'.
According to the Hong Kong Boys' and Girls' Club Association, which asked secondary school students for their views on what should be taught, the proposed curriculum falls short of students' expectations.
The association's spokesman, Jeff Tsang, said students in focus groups indicated they wished to discuss topics such as corruption, food safety and the suitability of one-party rule in China. Other issues they highlighted were the recent high-speed rail accident and the detention of the dissident artist Ai Weiwei .
'It seems officials are out of touch as to what students would like to learn,' he said.
Leung Yan-wing, an associate professor in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, said the plan under consultation failed to reflect that Hong Kong is a multicultural city or address the needs of ethnic minorities.
Liberal Studies teacher Jacob Hui said the new subject might increase the workload of teachers, 'Now everyone in the school is asking who should teach the subject.'