Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai has been drawn into the debate over a government plan to introduce compulsory national education in secondary schools by 2013.
On the sidelines of the National People's Congress Standing Committee meeting in Beijing yesterday, Fan was quizzed on the government's proposal to make national education a compulsory subject in primary schools next year, followed by secondary schools in 2013.
Asked whether she thought national education would be introduced smoothly in secondary schools, she said: 'There is no guarantee.'
The former Legco president added that no one could promise that the controversial curriculum would be perfect.
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.
Fan's comment came after opposition from school principals, teachers and pan-democrats, who wanted the introduction of the compulsory subject delayed. Critics say the subject could be a brainwashing tool for the government and that implementing the curriculum change in 2013 could complicate ongoing education reform.
The chairman of the moral and national education ad hoc committee under the Curriculum Development Council, Professor Lee Chack-fan, said it was too early to say whether the new curriculum should be delayed.
'It is a bit premature because the consultation has not been completed yet,' he said.
or so of Hong Kong students feel they should contribute to China's development, according to education secretary Michael Suen