Hong Kong students have mixed reaction towards making Chinese history compulsory

By Edmund Ho

While many can see why making the subject compulsory can be a good thing, many more are concerned about it not being taught in a fair and balanced way

By Edmund Ho |

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Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced Chinese history will be a compulsory subject.

Students across the city are reported to have mixed feelings over the new compulsory Chinese history curriculum.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (pictured) announced last week she was making Chinese history an independent compulsory subject in local secondary schools from Form One to Form Three from next year. This has been an action long pushed for by pro-establishment lawmakers. It is also a measure that pan-democrats see as a path to a national education curriculum.

Pan-democrats have long called a compulsory Chinese history subject a brainwashing tool, and a replacement for the failed national education curriculum which was first suggested in 2007.

Eunice Yip, 17, from Pooi To Middle School, believes that learning Chinese history is important, but is worried what will happen when it is introduced in schools. She thinks the government needs to be balanced in its teaching of the subject, and must present a fair view of the country’s past.

Maryknoll Convent School student Pauline Wong, 15, does not believe a compulsory Chinese history component will lead to any sort of brainwashing.

“Secondary school students are mature enough to know what is right and what is wrong,” she said. “They won’t be brainwashed just because they learn about the history of the place they’re living in.”

Although he won’t be as affected by the subject like local students, Harrison Rock, 16, said: “It’s an important part of an individual’s identity to know their history and culture.” The Kellett School student added that if the class “only offers a positive version of events, there is nothing to learn”.

Daniel Storey, 16, also from Kellett School, thinks the new compulsory Chinese history curriculum has some good points. The aftermath of the Umbrella Movement in 2014 has made young people feel like no one cares about them, and “they no longer view Hong Kong as a land of opportunity and promise”. Learning more about Chinese history, Daniel said, will instil in students positive feelings for their country and encourage interest “in preserving the cultural identity of Hong Kong”.

Edited by Ginny Wong