My Take

Our students must learn about city’s constitutional set-up

The Basic Law is not some abstract idea; it rules our lives. Yet, our education officials are frightened to introduce the topic in schools

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 September, 2016, 1:04am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 September, 2016, 1:04am

Five years after the idea of introducing national and moral education was put on the back burner, young pupils can now openly discuss Hong Kong’s secession from the rest of China in school. Ironically, education officials are afraid even to introduce a new history curriculum on the Basic Law and “one country, two systems” principle. So much for brainwashing.

Localist groups have been formed at some 56 schools – about 10 per cent of more than 500 secondary schools in Hong Kong. Many openly advocate drawing “a firm divide” between Hong Kong and the mainland or affirming the city’s as a distinct entity.

Education minister Eddie Ng Hak-kim may talk tough about cracking down on advocacy of independence on campus, but officials can do nothing as the pupils claim to be merely forming “discussion” groups.

If ever there is a time to educate our children about the fantasyland of radical localism and secessionism, it is now. And no, we are not talking about “brainwashing” pupils by making them swear allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party or sing the national anthem every day.

It’s about teaching the constitutional set-up of Hong Kong based on the Basic Law and “one country, two system” principle, and their historical context.

Revised history curriculum focuses more on Hong Kong but omits important elements of the past

That was supposed to be the content of a chapter in the first round of consultation just launched by a special committee tasked to upgrade the Chinese history and general history curriculums for secondary one to three.

According to some unnamed committee members, officials have pulled the section on the development of Hong Kong under the Basic Law and “one country, two systems”. One member told the Chinese-language Ming Pao newspaper that the government might have been afraid it would be controversial to introduce the subject ahead of the chief executive election and speculated it would be reintroduced in the second round of consultation next year, after the election.

It all sounds like one of those conspiracy theories circulating around these days. But the fact remains that secondary schools urgently need to take up teaching Hong Kong’s constitutional framework and its importance in maintaining order and guaranteeing our freedom.

What better way to teach that in a non-partisan and ideologically neutral way than putting it in the context of contemporary local history?

The topic is not just important but urgent. Education officials need to get on with it.