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Kerry Kennedy
Kerry Kennedy
Kerry Kennedy is professor emeritus and adviser (academic development) at The Education University of Hong Kong. He was formerly director of the Centre for Governance and Citizenship and dean of the Faculty of Education and Human Development. He is also a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Teachers need time and support to get to grips with national education subjects and put together new lessons and materials. Metrics must also be agreed on for assessing exactly what students are taking away from these lessons, and whether changes need to be made.

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Instead of channelling students into schools classified into bands based on academic performance, specialist secondary schools focusing on specific skills should be set up. Schools should not be academic satellites floating silently at the edge of society, but an integral part of the community.

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Graduates need more than skills and knowledge – they must be creative problem-solvers capable of innovative thinking and working in teams. They must also learn to prioritise the needs of the community over individual freedom and understand how to deal with ‘fake news’.

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Allowing schools to devise their own strategies to teach national security not only puts the burden on overworked staff, but could also lead to varying outcomes. Teaching it as part of a broader education on Hong Kong’s civic life would ensure a fuller understanding.

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The Basic Law also does not specifically prohibit teaching about the pro-independence movement, raising questions over the grounds on which he was deregistered.

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In the context of national security education, it must be recognised that scattered initiatives will rarely be taken up if issued as instructions. If there are to be changes, they need to be planned, discussed broadly, and developed in the context of a civic education curriculum.

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Speculation about the impact of the law must give way to a democratic agenda crafted for these post-security law times. Democratic development will benefit not just Hong Kong, but also help it fulfil its role as China’s international city.

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Valuing ideology over free inquiry is damaging in the long run. Helping young people become critical thinkers will foster the creativity and innovation needed to ensure a prosperous future for Hong Kong.

Recent weeks have highlighted the power of democratic institutions. New district council members must be ambassadors of democracy in action while pro-democracy parties should draft policies that show they can be more than an opposition force.

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Violence on either side should not obscure the valid public concerns that continue to fuel huge protest turnouts. An unequal society is at the root of it all, and it is high time peaceful protesters and an amenable government came to the table.

Having suppressed dissent in multiple ways, the government is now living with the consequences. If issues can’t be discussed openly, they will be discussed in the echo chambers of social media, and radical solutions will be sought.

The government may have thought the sentiment behind Occupy was over and done with, but research shows that the feelings of alienation and dissatisfaction never left Hong Kong youth.

Existing guidelines on music education in Hong Kong already emphasise respect for the Chinese and other national anthems. At the same time, a school’s role is to educate, and neither to indoctrinate nor police students.

The education system needs to be reformed at every level. Schools should be less exam-oriented, vocational education should not be second best, and the University Grants Committee should nurture creativity, not nip it in the bud.

The Hong Kong government’s education reforms have not addressed the right problems, focusing on Chinese history and the influence of ‘liberal studies’ when they should think about training students for the technology of the future

Hong Kong needs a common curriculum of civic education that prepares students for the rights and duties of being a citizen, bearing in mind the city’s unique status as an SAR of China.

The uncivil behaviour displayed by students in the row over pro-independence posters on university campuses runs counter to democratic values such as tolerance, fairness and open-mindedness

Kerry Kennedy says self-financed undergraduate students and their institutions who accept this largesse should also understand their obligation to give back to society after they graduate

Now, it seems, Occupy Central is to be blamed on liberal studies. There has been too much teaching about politics and this is what has brought students onto the streets. At least this is the implication of DAB's advice to the Education Bureau.

The Education Bureau, Professional Teachers' Union and principals have been at odds about responses to the falling secondary school population in Hong Kong.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's second policy address nailed his government's socially progressive credentials to the mast. Apart from middle class cries of "me too", and the usual opposition from those who will never give any credit to this government, support for the city's poor has been well received.

Hong Kong prides itself as a fair and tolerant society. It is a signatory to a number of international covenants that seek to guarantee international standards of social justice and equity. Yet the issues of ethnic minorities are becoming a regular aspect of concern, whether it is alleged racial profiling by police, inequitable educational provision for students or poverty and substandard housing for many ethnic minority families.

The case of Alpais Lam Wai-sze, the teacher who swore at police during an altercation concerning Falun Gong protesters, raises important issues for the Hong Kong community.

Threats of class boycotts, calls for rejecting nominated candidates, an appeal for judicial review and candidates not showing up for consultation: all of these have characterised recent presidents' appointments at Hong Kong's higher education institutions, including Lingnan University, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Open University and Tung Wah College.

The recent budget contained a provision of HK$480 million a year to send 20 bright Hong Kong students overseas to study early childhood education or English. On the surface, this may seem like an initiative that will make teaching an attractive option for the smartest of Hong Kong's secondary students but is this really the message that will be sent to the community?