The Hong Kong government has sought since 2007 to introduce "national education" courses into primary and secondary school curriculum, aimed at strengthening students' "national identity awareness" and nurturing patriotism towards China. The programme has met with increasing public opposition in recent years, with many in Hong Kong seeing it as a brainwashing attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to suppress dissent.
Students march against national education
About 50 secondary school pupils marched from a public school in Shau Kei Wan to the government headquarters in Tamar, Admiralty, on Tuesday morning to protest against the introduction of the national education curriculum ahead of the start of a new school term next week.
The pupils from an anti-national education alliance walked the 12 kilometres from Aldrich Bay Government Primary School to Admiralty, wearing red blindfolds and carrying red balloons. They chanted slogans saying they did not want brainwashing education, and urged schools and teachers not to teach the subject. The group passed through a number of public schools in the process of their march.
They released the balloons when they arrived at the government’s headquarters.
State primary schools are expected to start introducing the national and moral education curriculum next month although it will not become compulsory until 2015. Secondary schools must teach the subject in 2016.
One of the rally organisers, activist Yip Po-lam, said the group would not rule out using any means to force the government to withdraw the subject. “We will be uncooperative,” she said.
But Yip said there were no details available yet as to whether students and teachers would strike. The protesters’ plan to fight against the subject in the new school term would be announced on Saturday.
Lai Man-lok, an 18-year-old who took part in the rally, said teachers should not be subject to any political pressure. “Their workload is heavy enough,” he said.