Stepping into ELCHK Hung Hom Lutheran Primary School in Kowloon, pupils pass through a traditional red Chinese door and decorative eaves to get to their classrooms. The co-educational school, run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hong Kong, is among those that will run a trial of national security education for the academic year starting in September. Hong Kong schools told to do more to promote national security education “For primary school pupils, especially younger children, it’s best to start with knowing more about our motherland and Chinese culture before learning about national security. Cultivating their national identity is important,” principal Wong Chi-wah said. By next month, about 1,000 primary and secondary schools must submit a report to the Education Bureau describing how they intend to teach national security themes. Interviews with five school heads showed a range of approaches, from schools planning to do the minimum, to some who will infuse national security education into almost every subject. After Beijing imposed the national security law on Hong Kong in June last year, the education authorities issued at least 17 sets of guidelines on curriculum framework, administrative work and pupils’ behaviour for schools to adopt by the 2022-23 school year at the latest. Children as young as six are supposed to learn about the four main offences under the law – secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces – while schools have to inject national security elements into subjects including physics, chemistry and information technology. Principal Wong said his school had already been carrying out national education activities, including flag-raising ceremonies and presentations on National Security Education Day in April and the July 1 anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China. He said pupils were taught that “Hong Kong has been part of China since the unification by the Qin emperor” (259-210 BC), and also learned about the history of the Basic Law, the city’s mini constitution. The school would continue to strengthen elements of national security in teaching, Wong said. Over the summer holidays, it will also review its library collection to weed out items that might breach the law. Earlier this month, city leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor vowed to “boldly push ahead” with patriotic education, which she described as a key policy the city had failed to implement since its 1997 return to China. Scientia Secondary School in Ho Man Tin, which calls itself a traditional patriotic school, has big plans for the new school year. Let Hong Kong students learn history with focus on national security: new guidelines Principal Wong Ching-yung said it would not only add national security elements in every subject, but also produce its own teaching materials and hold talks on the subject. “We will roll out national security education in every subject, including physical education, English language and music,” he said. English-language lessons will see pupils learning about famous Olympians from China, the country’s extraordinary engineering feats, and a topic called “homeland surveillance protecting Chinese cities”. The school’s efforts are ahead of the education authorities, who have not yet issued guidelines on including national security in English or physical education classes. In lessons on “life and society”, students will be taught about the central government’s agencies in Hong Kong, mainland China’s political system and the thorny issue of self-ruled Taiwan. The school will encourage students to take part in exchange trips to the mainland, or even further their studies there. Unlike the other schools, one principal at a government-subsidised secondary school said it intended to do the minimum in terms of national security education in the coming year. Asking to remain anonymous, he said the school was taking a “wait-and-see” approach and would comply with the requirements gradually. “After all, we are not required to immediately do everything by September,” he said. Site chosen for Hong Kong’s first school offering mainland Chinese curriculum With kindergartens also required to roll out national security education elements, principal Nancy Lam Chui-ling said her school, Tsuen Wan Trade Association Chu Cheong Kindergarten, might do so to encourage positive values among its pupils. For example, during the Mid-Autumn Festival when children play with lanterns, children may be taught fire safety and that it is wrong to “use fire to damage things or disrupt public order”. This week, education officials said every kindergarten would receive seven sets of a book on the security law by former liaison office legal affairs director Wang Zhenmin. It was selected by China’s education minister Chen Baosheng as a suitable reference for teachers. The books were distributed to teachers at primary and secondary schools earlier this year.