Hong Kong localism and independence

Hong Kong teachers warned they could be struck off for separatist talk in schools

Education Bureau says teachers could lose their qualifications if they advocated independence for Hong Kong while teaching

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 August, 2016, 10:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 August, 2016, 8:14am

Education authorities issued a stern warning on Sunday that they would cancel registered teachers’ professional qualifications or refuse to qualify them if they advocated independence for Hong Kong in schools.

The warning coincided with a pro-establishment group of education administrators lashing out at teachers and education groups promoting the idea of splitting Hong Kong from China, and labelling such conduct as a breach of professional ethics and the law.

The statement was issued by the Academy of School Managers, of which Executive Councillor Bernard Chan is honorary chairman, in response to a slew of new “localist” concern groups springing up at secondary schools, sparking debate on whether educators should be allowing academic discussion on the highly contentious issue or keeping it off campus altogether.

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No pro-independence advocacy or activities should appear in schools ... and any organisation which serves to promote independence must be banned

“Some people, including those who work in education or are key persons at educational bodies, have openly advocated or even begun to organise groups on campus ... encouraging Hong Kong’s separation from mainland China,” the statement read, without naming anyone specifically.

The group said it was “firmly opposed” to such “violation of educational ethics”, which it described as a breach of the Education Ordinance and the Basic Law.

It urged school administrators to pay close attention to such practices and step up prevention, and the Education Bureau to deal strictly with them “to avoid wrong or unlawful thoughts from spreading on school grounds, harming society, and consigning Hong Kong to a hopeless abyss”.

In response, the bureau reiterated that “no pro-independence advocacy or activities should appear in schools ... and any organisation which serves to promote independence must be banned”.

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“For teachers involved in unlawful activity or misconduct, the bureau will follow its existing mechanism in reviewing the qualifications as the registered instructor,” a spokesman said.

Education sector legislator Ip Kin-yuen agreed that teachers should not force their own political views on students, but he suggested the topic of independence should be discussed as part of civic education as it was now a societal phenomenon.

“I don’t think imposing a no-go zone can solve the problem. In fact, barring them from something could actually risk backfiring,” he said.

Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, a pan-democrat district councillor and school administrator said it would only cause “white terror” among teachers.

“Anyone who respects the ‘one country, two systems’ policy should encourage debate [about independence],” he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told university students at a military experience camp that every Hong Kong resident had a “responsibility for defending the national sovereignty and territorial integrity” of China