National Education

Hong Kong class boycotts over Moral and National Education plan averted

School bodies put Moral and National Education curriculum back on the shelf for at least 3 years

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 August, 2012, 9:12pm

Schools are unlikely to introduce classes in moral and national education in the next three years, making a threat by teachers to boycott such classes next month moot, a leading opponent of the planned curriculum says.

Eva Chan Sik-chee, co-founder of the Parents Concern Group on National Education, was speaking after talks with three major school sponsoring bodies.

"All of them shared the view that, as there will be a three-year introductory period, if [they] did not introduce the curriculum at all during the period, there is no need to boycott classes," Chan said after a radio programme.

She did not name the school bodies. However, the city's largest school-sponsoring body, the Catholic diocese, issued a strongly worded guideline to all its 197 schools this week instructing them not to introduce Moral and National Education.

The government is giving primary schools the option of teaching the subject this year, and secondary schools may start next year, with plans to make it compulsory in all schools by 2016.

In a letter written by Sister Cecelia Wong Yeuk-han, who serves as the diocese's episcopal delegate for education, all its 110 primary schools were instructed not to introduce the subject.

Wong's letter, which was published yesterday by the Ming Pao Daily, said she was conveying the order of the diocese's leader, Bishop of Hong Kong Cardinal John Tong Hon.

The diocese runs one in five schools in the city.

Catholic schools that had previously decided to teach the subject this year must revert to the original Moral and Civic Education curriculum when they reopen on September 3, the report said, adding that Wong also advised against class boycotts. The instruction means that some 70,181 primary-school students will not be taught the curriculum, which critics say could brainwash pupils.

Their fears were stoked by the publication this year of a handbook for national education teachers, The China Model, containing no reference to the Cultural Revolution or the June 4, 1989, crackdown on Tiananmen Square and portraying a centralised political regime as a "selfless" contributor to stability.

The issue brought up to 90,000 demonstrators onto the streets last month.

Chinese University students, meanwhile, called on the institution's arts dean to press for cancellation of the subject at meetings of a government committee set up to oversee its implementation. Professor Leung Yuen-sang is a committee member.