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.
Activists repeat calls for CY Leung to void national education guides
Parent and student pressure groups have reiterated their demand for the government to withdraw the national education curriculum guidelines once and for all.
The concerned groups spoke yesterday hours after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said his administration would make a decision regarding national education as soon as a government-appointed advisory panel concluded its next meeting.
Anna Wu Hung-yuk, chairwoman of the Committee on the Implementation of Moral and National Education, earlier advised the government to "invalidate" the guidelines, which were issued to schools in April.
Wu said there was no need for the guides as Leung had given schools the prerogative on whether or not to teach the controversial patriotism subject.The Parents Concern Group on National Education along with Professional Teachers' Union vice-president Wong Hak-lim also pushed for withdrawal.
Joshua Wong Chi-fung, the convenor of student group Scholarism, said the government opted not to use the word "withdraw" as it was afraid of "losing face".
But Scholarism wants a clear decision to be made sooner, instead of waiting until after the panel convenes. The next meeting's date has not been set.
Scholarism has planned a gathering outside Leung's house today to demand the complete withdrawal of the subject.
"I hope he [Leung] will clarify that the government no longer recognises the official guidelines," group convenor Eva Chan Sik-chee said. "Then if schools want to start teaching the subject, they will be free to choose their own teaching materials and decide on the subject's aims."
However, principal Leung Kee-cheong, whose Fresh Fish Traders' School opted to teach the course, said the government should not rush a decision.
Even if the government decided to scrap the subject, it should not be done before the end of the school term, he said. He also said he would allow parents to sit in on classes to make sure their children were not being "brainwashed".