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  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 2:35pm

National Education

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. 

NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong's Leung backs down on Chinese patriotism lessons

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 September, 2012, 8:14pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 September, 2012, 8:14pm

Hong Kong’s government on Saturday backed down on a plan to force school children to take Chinese patriotism classes, after weeks of protests and on the eve of crucial legislative polls.

“The amendment of this policy means that we are giving the authority to the schools,” the city’s leader, Leung Chun-ying, told reporters a day after activists said more than 100,000 protesters rallied at government headquarters.

“The schools are given the authority to decide when and how they would like to introduce the moral and national education,” he added, blaming the mandatory nature of the policy on his predecessor’s government.

The proposal to introduce mandatory “national education” classes in all schools from 2016 was condemned as brainwashing by students and teachers, and sparked weeks of protests that brought scores of thousands onto the streets.

The government said the subject was important to foster a sense of national belonging and identity, amid rising anti-Beijing sentiment in the semi-autonomous southern city of seven million people.

Schools were meant to adopt the subject voluntarily this year but many said they wanted more guidance from the government about how it should be taught.

A survey released last week showed 69 percent of students opposed the classes.

Course material funded by the government extolled the benefits of one-party rule, equated multi-party democracy to chaos, and glossed over events like the bloody Tiananmen crackdown and the mass starvation of Mao’s regime.

Lawmaker Anna Wu, who chaired a committee studying the policy, said the government had decided on a course of action that was “the most inclusive and most liberal”.

“It is also very consistent with academic freedom and therefore I support this move,” she said.

The former British colony goes to the polls on Sunday to elect a new 70-seat legislature, which will play a crucial role on the city’s path to direct elections for its leader in 2017 and the legislature by 2020.

Pro-democracy parties were using the education furore to galvanise their supporters, hoping to boost their representation in parliament and maintain a veto over constitutional amendments.

Leung took office in July after being put in power by a small committee of mainly pro-Beijing elites.


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This article is now closed to comments

I have been a serious student of all matters Chinese since 1960. Having taught at several universities in China, I am not at all surprised that informed Chinese people in Hong Kong would see through this CCCPPP and more P farcical attempt at continuing the hoodwinking of its populace. I am always more particularly concerned over the continued abusive use of "ancient history" by any culture to justify anything to do with its culture. Earlier this year the "noose papers" in Wuhan stated the intention of the Central government to re-rewrite history going as far back as 3,000 years. Can anyone out there give me a rough estimate of how many times Chinese history has been changed by its successive governments? Sima Qian, the noted "scholar" of "Shiji" wrote the history which is widely regarded as authoritative some three to four hundred years after Xian Yu was killed. I know that he did not have any reliable library to do his work. I also know that like Du Fu (Pu), he traveled extensively before writing his history. How can anyone rely on such writing as authoritative? Which brings me to the issue in HK: who in their right mind could place trust in anything written by "Central"! Why would any parent want their children to be taught fiction and call it history. Do you know how many people died under "the great leap forward? do you know how many died (are dying) from the Cultural Revolution? Is there anywhere in God's Green Earth (past tense) that you could go to get data.
I am overseas Hong Konger. I saw the protest on our local broadcast station and was wondering what the huge protest was about. I was expecting the "patriotic education" to include appraisals of red culture of some sort which is in conflict with Hong Kong's core values and identity. But after reading this article knowing that it extends to including glossing over Tienanmen square incident , Mao's failed policies, and "chaos by multi-party democracy". I just thought the party's good ol' intrusive brainwashing mechanism is in action again, seems very excessive for a place like Hong Kong. For your information: the techniques of "brainwashing" was really first invented by the Mao era Chinese comrades,
A real patriotic education should be one that educates about our civilization's rich heritage and Chinese culture core values, and teaches both the good and bad past actions of the government, so the young generations can reflect on it as a lesson in history. Not a "Red education" but a "Chinese heritage education", it should teach upto the Republic of China era and talks about what "really" happened afterwards. Honestly talks about Hong Kong's SAR status and identity,Taiwan (ROC), and China (PRC).
THAT is a REAL Patriotic "Chinese education".
I think Hong Kong should spend more effort instead on promoting and educating the outside world what Hong Kong's core value and identity is about, not wasting resources on the people within.
I am over 50 years old, as a long-term reader of SCMP. What I see is that many of the comments below are very brain-washed ones. It is obvious that they do not need National Education (NE) because of their unconditional love towards the country. I just wonder if they can see many hunger strikers are over 50 too. I don't think the opponents of NE are age-related. I believe that SCMP contains many educated readers who are over 50. On the contrary, some people believe that the supporters of NE are the ones who have jobs related to Mainland / have some gains or transaction with Mainlanders. Anyway, I 'respect' their tactics for their survival. Hope that they will not send their children to study abroad but enjoy their favourite NE.
If somebody ask me whether HK or HK-People are ready for Universal Suffrage? No, No, No and again No. From what we have seen and will see, HK People are so easy to manipulate and use. You just have to yell loud enough and scare them with the evil CCP.
I agreed with jimmybabe.
I am over 40, I read both Chinese newspapers and the SCMP, I don't drive a Mercedes, but I have a family and a child who goes to school. I don't pretend I represent the views of HK people, but I represent myself, my freedom of thoughts. I don't normally support drastic measures, in fact I hate them. I love my country, its history, culture, language and inventions. I don't belong to any political party, but I am a patriot because my conscience and my instincts tell me that I should support my motherland, pray for it, and fight against Japanese imperialism. National Education is not patriotism, because it will only do harm to our country, unless it teaches everything that is both good and bad about the government, otherwise it is no more than brainwashing. You don't have to agree with me because I don't force my opinion on anyone. You are free to disagree with it, and that is the distinction I draw with forced education.
Most of those people I know who are over 40 or so support implementation of NE, those younger people who are below 40 or so, in particular those couples with kids in school are against. The division is fairly clear.
Most of those people I know who support NE do not read SCMP and you will never see their comments posted here, but those young guys I know who are against NE are keen going around trying to persuade others to go along with them, most of them are reader of SCMP and they often post comments here.
What I am trying to say is: the comments that you see here on SCMP are not representative of HK people.
To me, complaining NE being brainwashing is just a tactic, a scare tactic, aiming for political gains.
I am a supporter of NE, but I do not agree with having NE as an independent subject.
somehow the problem is passed to the schools, which means that it's still unsolved...
"..giving the authority to the schools.." means the govt. can still pressure the school to implement it. It's not over!
until there is universal suffrage to provide a legitimately elected government protests against unpopular policies will continue
Having won this one, I wonder what topic the protesters will go for next week. There has been non-stop rallying for many months, on one subject after another. One almost thinks there are professional protesters who like being on the streets. The next rally might be on the Legco elections, or maybe over the sale of the Diaoyu Islands, or, wait a minute, the Japanese invasion of China on September 18? The streets will feel empty without them, and maybe the participants will also feel aimless for a change. It almost feels like the Red Guards are already here.


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