Education Bureau officials have dismissed suggestions that a plan to introduce compulsory national education in secondary schools may be delayed.
The government proposes making national education a compulsory subject next year in primary schools, followed by secondary schools from the 2013 academic year.
It has triggered opposition from teachers and pan-democrats who say it would mean even heavier workloads for schools and teachers and that the subject could be a brainwashing tool for the government.
Secondary school heads have also said that implementing the curriculum change in 2013 may complicate ongoing education reform, including bringing in the Diploma of Secondary Education from next year.
Both Hong Kong Association of Heads of Secondary Schools chairman Yuen Pong-yiu and Hong Kong Subsidised Secondary Schools Council chairman Liu Ah-chuen said yesterday they had not been told about any delay to the proposal.
They said bureau officials clarified a Sing Tao Daily report that said the government would suspend the plan to introduce the subject to secondary schools because of heavy opposition.
Yuen said: 'I was told that such information did not come from the bureau and that it did not have such a plan.' Liu said: 'If the government had such a plan, they would have consulted us.'
Pro-establishment legislator Starry Lee Wai-king said delaying the introduction of the subject would not be surprising. She said that officials had told her that details of the proposal were subject to change.
Under the proposal, schools would have to devote up to 50 hours of a school year, or about two lessons a week, to the new subject. No exams would be required but pupils would be expected to evaluate each other on whether they were willing to be Chinese, proud of the nation's development and prepared to respect the flag and anthem.
A four-month consultation on the proposal is expected to end on Wednesday. An ad hoc committee established to set up the curriculum will meet on September 15 to discuss the results of the consultation.
The Education Bureau refused to make any comments on the newspaper report.