Students from at least 11 tertiary education institutions are planning to boycott classes for a week and rally outside the government headquarters later this month, student leaders said yesterday, as they urged Hongkongers to stick together to push for democracy.
The exact location, duration and time of the strike has not been finalised, but would likely take place in the middle or at the end of this month, said Alex Chow Yong-kang, general secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, which represents college students.
Joshua Wong Chi-fung, convenor of Scholarism, which represents secondary school pupils, said it would be more difficult for them to boycott classes. He said he expected their turnout to be a "three-digit number".
On Tuesday Wong and other Scholarism activists began handing out flyers to promote a one-day class boycott among secondary pupils. They will invite pupils who join the boycott to a mass "democracy class" in a public square on the day.
Chow said he did not believe the government would immediately back down and give Hong Kong universal suffrage when the strikes took place. "But the purpose is to wake up people from across the city. Even the students have come out, and so the rest of Hongkongers should stand united as well," he said on RTHK radio yesterday.
Chow said students from each of the institutions had set up a taskforce to explore how to organise a boycott and would meet this weekend.
The secondary school students who took part would need to sign a statement saying they were not simply skipping classes but attending another kind of lesson at Civic Square, Wong said.
At Chinese University yesterday, student union members gave away yellow ribbons to students on the first day of the new term.
Union president Tommy Cheung Sau-yin said the students were angry at Beijing's decision on Sunday, which set tough rules for the 2017 chief executive election. "The number of people boycotting classes would not be small," he said.
The university's vice chancellor, Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu, said the school respected students' feelings and their opinions. "This is a university and we allow an open forum for speech and expression of attitude," he said, adding that he hoped student groups would discuss their plans with school officials to minimise any disturbance.
A Baptist University spokesman said that if students miss more than 15 per cent of their classes in any subject, they would not be able to sit for examinations. Teachers wishing to join the boycott should get directors' approval and arrange make-up classes beforehand, he said.
Most other universities have similar arrangements.
Chan Yuen-ying, principal of St Stephen's Church College in Sai Ying Pun, said they had discussed preparations for Occupy Central. If pupils choose not to attend school, they would make use of online teaching, she said.
A number of pupils voiced their support for Occupy Central yesterday.
"To me, whether or not to take part in Occupy Central will still depend on the NPC's attitude and actions this week," said a Form Five pupil at St Paul's Co-educational College, who insisted on anonymity.
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