National Education

National education can help foster deeper appreciation of motherland

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 October, 2011, 12:00am


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I refer to the report ('Cardinal slams 'brainwashing' in schools plan', September 26).

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun says the proposed national education agenda in schools is 'too vague'.

The reason for this is that our motherland is developing at a fast pace. How can you come up with a specific plan about what to teach in class when developments are so rapid and things keep changing. The vagueness gives teachers the flexibility they need in the classroom.

Given the diverse background of Hongkongers I do not think they are going to readily succumb to the extreme nationalism Cardinal Zen fears. Some, for example, came here to escape the Cultural Revolution.

Also, our students are able to think for themselves.

In Cardinal Zen's mind extreme nationalism would appear to mean blindly worshipping the Chinese Communist Party, but school pupils in Hong Kong are not robotic and will not simply receive information and values in the classroom without thinking about them.

One of the government's aims with the education system in this city, including a national education course, is that young people will develop critical thinking skills and will make independent judgments.

Another aim of the course will be to improve students' understanding of the motherland and develop a sense of responsibility as a Chinese.

Just because you learn more about your country does not make you an extreme nationalist. It is up to the teacher to ensure pupils develop the necessary critical thinking skills.

There must be an element of subjectivity because, to cultivate students' sense of responsibility to our country, it is important that they should develop a sense of belonging to China.

By looking at things with a 'Chinese eye', students can gain an understand of what people are thinking in the country and develop an empathy with them.

This can help to foster a sense of belonging, a sense of responsibility and a desire to contribute, to help society. National education can turn our youngsters into responsible, motivated and knowledgeable individuals.

The fundamental principle behind national education is not extreme and I do not believe it is tantamount to brainwashing.

Leung Ka-kei, Kwai Chung