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.
Campaigners for and against national education may clash
Police have given permission for rallies for and against national education at the government headquarters in Admiralty tomorrow, prompting fears of clashes.
The Civil Alliance against National Education said it was worried trouble could break out after learning two groups which are in favour of national education had been granted permission to rally in the same area at the same time.
Its delegates met police representatives last night to discuss crowd control.
An alliance spokeswoman said it was expecting about 4,000 people to attend its rally at the government complex.
She said the two pro-national education groups would have an estimated total of between 1,000 and 1,500 supporters.
According to the alliance, police have proposed dividing the protest area outside government headquarters using barricades, with officers separating the two camps.
"This arrangement is not a good idea," the spokeswoman said. "As the two camps are so close, we are worried about the possibility of clashes."
The alliance is proposing moving the rival protesters - who applied for permission to rally after the alliance had announced its plans - to a different part of the government complex.
The alliance quoted the police as saying they would try to liaise with the two rival groups. It would be informed about the result today.
Permission to gather is also needed from the government's administration wing, but the alliance spokeswoman insisted the rally would go ahead as scheduled.