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.
National Education advice for parents
For parents seeking primary schools that will not teach national education to their children, help may be at hand in the form of screening tips drawn up by a parents’ concern group.
Eva Chan Sik-chee, convenor of the Parents Concern Group on National Education, said: “As the period of primary one applications begins in earnest, the group has compiled a list of tips – based on suggestions from seasoned teachers – to help parents protect their kids.”
Many critics of the national education course have faulted it for an excessively pro-Beijing bias, calling it brainwashing.
Facing mounting pressure, the government has scrapped the three-year initiation period for the under-fire curriculum, and promised not to make it a separate subject in the next five years.
But the group is still worried that the biased elements may appear in other subjects, such as general studies and life education.
The group’s suggestions for parents include: asking schools to show class timetables, to see if “national education” has been scheduled; examining teaching materials for indications of any suspiciously biased courses; and being alert for students’ exchange trips arranged by the government or organisations with strong pro-Beijing backgrounds.
Chan emphasised that parents should communicate with schools in a respectful manner, since courses may not always be what they seem at the outset.
The group plans to stage a forum with other concern groups on the issue, on September 29, to map out their plans for the future.