National education in Hong Kong

HK Equal Opportunities Commission chief defends national education

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 September, 2012, 3:00am

Equal Opportunities Commission chairman Lam Woon-kwong has rejected suggestions that ethnic minority children could face discrimination if the schools they attend introduce national education.

Lam said it was reasonable to expect those pupils to learn more about China. Lam, who resisted calls to step down immediately when he became Executive Council convenor amid fears he would take a government line on discrimination issues, said he was aware of the controversy.

But he added: "It is not an issue of racial discrimination. Rather, it is an issue about how an education policy should be implemented."

Speaking after yesterday's commission meeting, Lam said: "For a Pakistani pupil [who] lives in Hong Kong, which is a major city of China … it is not unreasonable to expect him or her to learn more about China."

Some concern groups have expressed fears that the policy could trigger racial harassment.

Lam said that clauses in the government subject guidelines allowed schools flexibility in teaching ethnic minority pupils national education. He did not believe schools would force ethnic minority pupils to love China.

The government guidelines state "when planning the curriculum, teachers may modify the curriculum contents, taking into consideration the races and cultural backgrounds of students".

The government amended the policy last week. Some analysts said the subject had effectively been dropped, and it was up to individual schools whether or not to go ahead. The guidelines will be reviewed.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Parent-Teacher Associations of Yau Tsim and Mongkok Districts yesterday postponed a consultative session scheduled for today with parents and interested groups. In a statement, the federation said it need more time to prepare. New arrangements will be announced on Wednesday.