Teach China's history in schools: Institute of Education president

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 4:58am

Hong Kong's schools should teach more about China's history and culture without branding it as national education, the incoming head of the city's teacher training college has said.

Stephen Cheung Yan-leung, who will take over as the Institute of Education's president in September, also said his chief duty would help the college become a university, amid doubts about his commitment to the process.

He was speaking at a press conference at the school's Tai Po campus yesterday about his appointment by the board to replace Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung.

The new head said teachers must speak the truth when educating students about China's history in order to help the next generation become good citizens of the city and the nation.

"We don't need to take a stance. But students must learn the whole thing to nurture independent thinking," the Baptist University business dean said.

We don't need to take a stance. But students must learn the whole thing to nurture independent thinking
Stephen Cheung Yan-leung, future president of the Institute of Education

Asked for his view on how best to deliver national education to students, he replied: "We should not brand it national education. We should just teach more history and culture of China."

Cheung also defended his suitability amid controversy over his appointment.

He became emotional as he spoke about the bloody Tiananmen crackdown on the 1989 student movement as an example of topics that had to be taught.

"As a professor, when you see tanks handling the students, this is quite an unacceptable fact," he said, appearing to be choking back tears. "But we should speak the truth."

Student union president Dicky Chan Chung-dick said students were disappointed because Cheung refused to say when the college would become a university. "Previous principals, like Cheung Bing-leung, had promised to do it, even though it did not come true," he said.

Stephen Cheung said that while making the institute a university was his chief duty, "man proposes and God disposes".

Chan also said students were worried about Cheung being a layman, an opinion that the academic staff shared.

"We're worried that he will just cite slogans like 'education is investment in talent', [but] may not know the issues being discussed in teacher training," academic staff association president Li Chin-wa said.