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Basic Law

Hong Kong education video comparing city leader to a teacher chosen by a Beijing principal draws criticism

Education lawmaker slams new Basic Law instructional material as misleading

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 June, 2017, 10:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 June, 2017, 11:12pm

New guidelines for Basic Law instruction for secondary pupils in Hong Kong have drawn criticism from educators for what some call an inappropriate analogy of the relationship between the city and mainland China and how the local leader should be chosen.

In the teaching materials for a 15-hour “Constitution and the Basic Law” module as part of a new 39-hour requirement of Basic Law lessons, the Education Bureau compared the Chinese central government to a school principal and the city’s chief executive to a form teacher.

In the video describing the relationship between the city and the central government, the narrator said a principal could not manage matters in detail for every class, so he authorised form teachers to do so. As to who should take the role of a form teacher, the narrator said it was for the principal to decide.

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Education lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen slammed the video as misleading. He said it failed to highlight the “one country, two systems” principle and presented the chief executive as appointed and not elected.

“With this explanation, we do not need to resume political reform,” he said. “Instead [it shows that] we should move towards appointment of [chief executives].”

With this explanation, we do not need to resume political reform
Ip Kin-yuen, lawmaker

Ip, a former principal, also questioned the omission of a section of teaching materials on rights protected by the Basic Law, which was present in an older version of the materials.

Under the guidelines issued on Wednesday, schools are to ensure that at least 39 hours of Basic Law education lessons are allocated for the curriculum spanning Form One to Form Three.

These include 24 hours of Chinese history lessons and 15 hours for the life and society subject, or the new “Constitution and the Basic Law” module. For schools that do not offer the latter or when Basic Law-related modules are not taught in the subject, the new module is to be available for schools’ adoption later this year.

The total lesson hours relevant to Basic Law education are to increase to 51 hours, if schools offer 10 hours of history and two hours of geography.

On Thursday, Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim denied that the new education requirement was meant to replace a controversial national education programme aimed at promoting patriotism. Implementation of the programme failed in 2012.

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Speaking in Beijing, Ng said that since national education was brought up in 2012, different sectors believed there was a need to continue discussing the matter.

But he admitted the new content could contain elements touching on national education.

Ng said Basic Law education was previously conducted in classrooms, adding that the new guidelines were only for “coordination” and not a “brand new project”.

Separately, Ng said he and local university leaders along with their mainland counterparts had reached a consensus on the setting up of a Beijing-Hong Kong University Alliance. He added that the project – led by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Peking University – would see more cooperation between Hong Kong, the mainland and the international community in research, academics and students.