Hong Kong Basic Law

Principal-teacher analogy easy to understand, one designer of Basic Law teaching materials says

Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee member Simon Lee Hoey defends educational video on radio show

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 June, 2017, 12:05pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 June, 2017, 11:11pm

One of the designers of the new Basic Law teaching materials for secondary students has defended their use of a principal-teacher analogy to describe the relationship between Beijing and Hong Kong’s leader, saying it was appropriate and easy to understand.

Simon Lee Hoey, a member of the Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee, was responding to criticism on Thursday that the analogy was misleading.

In the teaching materials released on Wednesday for a 15-hour “Constitution and the Basic Law” module as part of a new requirement for 39 hours of Basic Law lessons, the Education Bureau compared the Chinese central government to a school principal and the city’s chief executive to one of the form teachers.

The analogy was mentioned in a teaching video in which the narrator said a principal could not manage matters in detail for every class, so he authorised form teachers to do so. As to who should take on the role of a form teacher, the narrator said it was for the principal to decide.

Education lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said the comparison was misleading as it failed to highlight the governing principle of “one country, two systems” for Hong Kong and presented the chief executive as appointed and not elected. He questioned if the description meant there was no need to further democratise the selection procedure by restarting the stalled political reform process.

Lee, who is on the committee that helped design the teaching materials, said the comparison highlighted the power structure between the two administrations, and it allowed secondary one and two students to digest the complicated concept easily.

Even an adult could not grasp this complex concept. We should not kill the students’ interest in learning.
Simon Lee, Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee member

“The analogy is appropriate. Indeed it is always better if we explain more. But education experts advised us that students could not absorb complicated ideas and explanations,” Lee said on a radio programme on Friday morning.

“Even an adult could not grasp this complex concept. We should not kill the students’ interest in learning. We had consulted Department of Justice on the content.”

Lee also stressed that the later part of the video explained the situation in Hong Kong and that the city’s leader was picked in an election.

“We have also mentioned uniqueness of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region,” Lee added.

Lee noted that discussions were open in classrooms and that teachers could add information in class on top of the materials.

Under the new guidelines, schools must allocate at least 39 hours of Basic Law education lessons for the curriculum spanning Form One to Form Three.

These include 24 hours of Chinese history lessons and 15 hours for the life and society subject, or the new “Constitution and the Basic Law” module.