National education in Hong Kong

Sha Tin Christian school forsakes Bible studies for national education

Christian institute in Sha Tin will cancel two weekly morning assemblies, upsetting parents

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 August, 2012, 3:36am

A Sha Tin Christian school will cancel two weekly morning assemblies - which include Bible studies - to make way for national education.

The move by Baptist Lui Ming Choi Primary School has upset parents who chose it for its religious character.

The school told parents in a letter that the contentious subject will be taught to all grades on Monday and Friday mornings in the new school term, which starts on September 3.

The letter said students' progress in the subject would be evaluated four times a year.

A parent who declined to be identified said the 8am to 8.30am time slot was formerly used for morning assemblies.

"I chose this school because it is a Christian school," she said. "The school needs to clearly define what it is doing. Is it sacrificing its educational philosophy and moral teachings?"

In a three-hour briefing session for new students on Saturday, the school managers said the national education subject would proceed but did not provide details, the parent said.

She said that if she was consulted, she would suggest that national education be taught in other class hours or during extra-curricular activities.

School principal Wong Kit-lin said most of the elements of the new subject were irrelevant to national education and the school would focus on the civic education as well as the moral components.

She said students would still get to pray during the lessons.

Only a small number of the city's 500 primary schools have indicated that they will heed the Education Bureau's advice to launch the subject voluntarily in this school year.

Concerns intensified last month after a set of teaching materials published by a pro-Beijing group described the Communist Party as a "selfless" and "unifying" regime. Critics said the subject was an indoctrination tool for Beijing.

HKFEW Wong Cho Bau School yesterday said the subject would be taught in a weekly 40-minute session.

The school is run by the publisher of the teaching materials, the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers.