Why Hong Kong students must stay the course on liberal studies
I refer to the controversy over whether liberal studies should remain compulsory for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exam.
The original aim of introducing liberal studies was to encourage students to think outside the box and develop their critical thinking skills, over six modules. But the subject has been blamed for stirring political protests by the youth, such as the 2014 Occupy movement.
Liberal studies does not rely only on books and memorising. It trains students to be more aware of the world, to reason and analyse: so there are no standard answers. If it becomes elective, or a simple pass-fail subject, we would not treat it as seriously as a core subject.
Ask yourself, which subject does not limit the thinking of students? It is liberal studies. It is more important and powerful in shaping learning and thinking than the other electives and so should not be classified as such.
Lastly, liberal studies cannot be blamed for encouraging students to launch protests, as the May 4 and June 4 movements in mainland China prove. Students led those movements against their government, but there was no liberal studies subject at that time.
So, even if liberal studies is downgraded from its core status, protests will still occur. It is not a subject that the government should dismiss but a subject to be promoted, encouraged and supported.
Andy Tong, Kwun Tong