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No room for bias in Chinese history lessons at Hong Kong schools

A revision of the curriculum has raised suspicions that the identity of the city may be played down, the subject must be taught in a comprehensive manner

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 June, 2018, 4:45am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 June, 2018, 4:46am

When the government released a revised Chinese history curriculum for consultation last year, queries were raised as to why key events such as the June 4 crackdown and the Hong Kong riots of 1967 had been left out.

The final blueprint, released for implementation as early as September 2020, has fuelled even more concern, with some questioning why the city’s history will no longer be taught in separate sections.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung rejected the suggestion that Hong Kong was being “dwarfed”.

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The merger of the city’s past with other topics of Chinese history was said to be based on feedback from some stakeholders, who said it would help students understand the city’s connection with the country. Given the city is historically part of China, this is not unjustified. But to those who are wary of change, this may be seen as an attempt to play down the Hong Kong identity.

The controversy owes much to the growing political tension between Beijing and Hong Kong. There have been suggestions that the government may make use of the Chinese history curriculum to instil a greater sense of patriotism and national identity. But critics are worried that it is part of the move to dilute the colonial past and to suppress the rise of localism.

The minister was right in saying that teachers should not impose their political views on students. We trust our teachers will do their job professionally. Although Hong Kong history will not be taught in separate units, it still accounts for 10 per cent of the content, which is similar to the old syllabus.

Changes to history textbooks offer lessons that must be learned

The need to learn about the history and culture of one’s country is universal. The case becomes even stronger in light of our reunification with the mainland after more than a century of British rule. There is nothing wrong in instilling a greater sense of national identity and responsibility among the younger generation, but whether a revamp of the Chinese history curriculum can serve the purpose remains to be seen.

What is important, though, is that the students will not be fed with biased views. The subject should be taught in a comprehensive manner.