CityU calls for support in hunger strike against national education
Staff association hopes hundreds will sign up for strike against national education
City University's staff association is calling on teachers and students to join a marathon citywide hunger strike to press the government to scrap national education in schools.
The association issued the appeal yesterday as a 400-strong rally was held against the subject at the Kowloon Tong university.
"[Chief Executive] Leung [Chun-ying] has adopted a foot-in-the-door technique … He has made minor amendments to the under-fire curriculum," said the staff association chairman, Dr John Tse Wing-ling. "If the curriculum guide is not scrapped, the course will surely be launched some day."
In a climbdown on September 8, Leung said schools would no longer be required to begin teaching the curriculum within three years and could instead choose whether to do so.
Tse said he hoped the hunger strike would garner support from hundreds of people, and expected it to be held at the end of the month and last about two weeks.
"If the number [of participants] is too small, the government won't feel the weight of our pressure," Tse said. "We also hope that the strike will give momentum to other anti-national education campaigns in future."
The hunger strike received support yesterday. A second-year computer science student who signed up for the cause said it was the university students' responsibility to raise public concern.
University alumni Ellen Or Min-ching said she was willing to take part in the hunger strike because she was moved by how much Hongkongers cared about education. Or, who was the student association's external vice-president, organised a class boycott in 1989 in protest at the Tiananmen crackdown.
Gil Lee Chak-man, the organiser of yesterday's rally, said he was disappointed at the chief executive's refusal to attend the event and speak with students.
"His secretary said he was occupied by other official affairs," Lee said. "Obviously, he doesn't see that listening to people's voices is one of his official affairs."
Also at the two-hour rally yesterday were parents from the Po Leung Kuk HKTA Yuen Yuen Primary School - which had previously announced that it would delay introducing the subject amid mounting public pressure.
"The principal refused to give a timetable on how the subject will be postponed," said Vivian Poon, mother of a Primary Four pupil at the school. "Does this mean that it will be revived after several months, when the dispute falls off people's agenda?"
Yesterday's rally was the second held by university students after the start of the new academic year. Last Tuesday, about 8,000 teachers and students attended a citywide class boycott at Chinese University.