Students continue class strike over national education

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 September, 2012, 3:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 September, 2012, 3:54pm

A small group of Open University students are boycotting classes for a second day in a row, on Tuesday, to protest against the government’s national education programme.

The protesters - about 15 students and some half-dozen organisers from the university’s national education concern group - have been demonstrating at Siu Tsang Fung Kwan Square.

Their class strike is being supported by two professors from Baptist University. Dr Benson Wong Wai-kwok, of Baptist’s department of government and international studies, spoke to the protesters on Tuesday, following a visit the day before by his colleague Dr Chan Sze-chi, of the religion and philosophy department.

On Tuesday morning, Wong called the controversy a purely political issue which had nothing to do with education. That is why “students are organising various rallies to vent their discontent,” he said.

Despite the small turnout, protester Venus Cheung Shun-wa said the event was “a giant leap forward” because it showed some students are still concerned about the national education issue.

“We are holding [the class boycott] because we want to take part in the strike, relay-style, organised by students at various universities,” she said, referring to two earlier class strikes: at Chinese University early this month and City University last week.

“We don’t want to see our next generation being brainwashed by the subject.”

While a handful of students stopped to listen to speakers addressing the protesters, most walked past the venue. One third-year banking and finance student, who was queuing to buy food at a nearby canteen, said he had no time to join the protest because he had classes all day.

“The concessions made by the government have helped soothe some people’s anger and worries [about national education],” he said.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced early this month that the three-year initiation period for national education had been cancelled, and schools can decide for themselves whether to teach the subject. But protests have continued because of fears the government could indirectly pressure some schools to teach the course, which opponents say has an excessive pro-Beijing bias.