National education in Hong Kong

HKU students protest national education with black ribbons

6,000 are handed out at inauguration ceremony, and union leader talks about next stage of action

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 3:51am

Incoming students at the University of Hong Kong found a low-key way to continue the national education protest yesterday, wearing black ribbons during the inauguration ceremony.

The students' union provided 6,000 ribbons for first-year students attending the ceremony at Loke Yew Hall.

Most students seemed to accept one, and some wore them on their wrists while listening to speeches by university officials.

"I personally think that the government should scrap the subject, as many people oppose it and teachers are not yet ready to teach it," said a Year One science student, who tied the ribbon on his wrist.

Vice chancellor Professor Tsui Lap-chee also accepted one before walking into the hall.

Students' union president Dan Chan Koon-hong said he was satisfied by the students' acceptance of the campaign, coming after Tuesday's citywide class boycott by university students to protest against the national education course.

"Now we should take our action to the next stage, not confining it to a class boycott," Chan said. The union has no plan for another class boycott when classes resume on Monday, but it is calling on students to dress in black on that day.

Tsui called the university a diverse, multicultural community where students should be able to listen to and respect the opinions of others.

"Students can use whatever means to express their concern, including staging a class boycott," he said. "If students need any help, we will surely stand by them."

Many critics of the national education course have faulted it for an excessively pro-Beijing bias, calling it brainwashing.

On Saturday Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying responded to massive protests by giving schools the discretion to choose whether or not to teach the subject.

But students have continued their protests, arguing that as long as the national education teaching guideline exists at the Education Bureau, it might still be put into practice. Students of City University's school of creative media are staging a three-day class boycott that started yesterday .

Its students' union will also hold a one-day class boycott next week.