Tuen Mun school petitioned to drop national education classes
National education classes began a few days ago, but already hundreds want them shelved
Dennis Chong and Johnny Tam
A direct-subsidy school is under pressure to scrap the national education curriculum days after the government announced schools would be free to decide whether to start the subject.
About 300 parents and other concerned parties signed a petition against the decision by PLK HKTA Yuen Yuen Primary School to rename its moral and personality development curriculum moral and national education.
"Why is it in such a haste to start it when the curriculum is not ready?" one of the petition organisers, Vivian Siu, said.
She said overseas parents whose children studied at the Tuen Mun school had been kept in the dark about the changes.
Fermi Wong Wai-fun, of minorities support group Unison, said the government must not ignore identity-building issues among non-Chinese students, especially younger ones.
"What if a Pakistani student is being harassed if he fails to show passion about China?" Wong, spokeswoman for Unison, asked.
Direct-subsidy schools receive government funds but act largely as private schools.
Ip Kin-yuen, of the Professional Teachers' Union and the newly elected lawmaker for the education sector, said he would initiate debate on retracting national education when the Legislative Council begins sitting next month.
Ip will also press ahead with seeking a no-confidence vote against Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and demand that education minister Eddie Ng Hak-kim step down for the disappointing responses they had made on the matter.
He plans to seek the support of other pan-democratic legislators and said pro-government lawmakers who had listened to public opinion would also vote for the motion.
Ng said he hoped he would be allowed to "impress the public" in other areas of his work.
PTU vice-president Wong Hak-lim said the association would conduct a poll to gauge members' opinions on class boycotts at primary and secondary schools after the government's climbdown this month.
Previously, the government had planned to make national education a compulsory subject in 2015 and 2016.