A new series of civic education courses offered by the Education Department for school principals and teachers will contain lessons on China. Each of the 24 courses under the series, held between June and December, has a capacity of 30. Some will have themes such as Chinese culture, China's geography, political system, civic rights and the country's international relations. An Education Department spokesman said the studies on China were in line with the goal of the new curriculum framework, of promoting students' national identity and commitment to society and the nation. The department has commissioned the University of Hong Kong's School of Continuing and Professional Education to provide the courses, which will be taught by academics from various universities. Assistant professor at Chinese University's Faculty of Education, Thomas Tse Kwan-choi, said nationalistic education had always been weak in Hong Kong and teaching youngsters about China would help them develop their sense of national identity. But he cautioned against an uncritical approach. The head of the Centre for Citizenship Education at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, Professor Lee Wing-on, supported the integration of understanding about China in civic education. He did not think increased awareness about China ran contrary to the principle of 'one country, two systems'. 'Hong Kong is part of China, even as it has a different social and political system. We can see ourselves as Hong Kong people in China,' he said. But he added it would also be useful for students to be told about social and political systems in other places, especially neighbouring countries, to 'broaden their minds'. The Education Department has also been actively promoting exchanges between teachers of the mainland and the SAR to improve their understanding of each others' education system. For the second time in two years it sponsored the HK-Shanghai Symposium on IT in Education, organised by the University of Hong Kong, Fudan University, the Hong Kong Subsidised Secondary and Primary Schools Council and the Shanghai Education Commission. About 70 local school heads joined the four-day trip last week, to visit flagship schools in Shanghai and discuss ways of integrating information technology into their curricula. Thomas Chan Fat-fui, principal of Hong Chi Morninglight School in Tuen Mun and a participant of the trip, said IT in education had developed quickly in Shanghai in recent years.