- The Education Bureau has announced Citizenship, Economics and Society subject will replace Life and Society for junior form students
- Aiming for a full roll-out of the new subject in 2024, authorities say the revamp is timely as it has been more than 10 years since Life and Society was introduced
Hot Topics takes an issue being discussed in the news and allows you to analyse different viewpoints on the subject. Our questions encourage you to examine the topic in-depth. Scroll to the bottom of the page for sample answers.
Context: Hong Kong’s new subject to focus on national security, replacing Life and Society for junior secondary school pupils
The government will introduce Citizenship, Economics and Society to all Form One students from 2024
The new subject aims to strengthen students’ understanding of China and role as responsible citizens
Hong Kong’s education authorities announced early this month that Life and Society, a subject offered at the junior secondary school level, would be changed. The revamped subject will focus on understanding national security and strengthening pupils’ sense of national identity.
The current Life and Society subject aims mainly to cultivate students’ understanding of local, national and global issues. It aims to help pupils develop enthusiasm to responsibly take part in public affairs. Students are also taught to respect and reflect on the city’s core values, such as freedom, social justice, democracy and integrity.
These aims do not figure in the syllabus for the new subject. The words “democracy”, “social justice” and “integrity” are absent from the new curriculum framework. The decision-making process of the government, including a suggestion to visit the Legislative Council in the current subject, has also been dropped.
The subject will be renamed Citizenship, Economics and Society and rolled out in two years. It will aim to strengthen students’ understanding of China and foster a sense of national identity. Students will be taught about their roles and responsibilities in society. It also focuses on strengthening their feelings of belonging.
One proposed learning goal is for students to grasp the meaning of national security and the importance of the national security law. Pupils will be taught to understand the constitution, Hong Kong’s Basic Law or mini-constitution, and the need to obey the law.
The government wants the new subject introduced at Form One in all secondary schools in September 2024, and has encouraged them to consider running it on a pilot basis in the next academic year.
Lawmaker and secondary school principal Tang Fei said the new subject would be the only formal one that dwelled on national education and national security. He compared this to other subjects that included only basic elements of both.
Tang said the new subject would go into both areas in greater depth and cover “a range of topics and knowledge, the constitution and recent economic and technological changes and development of the country”.
List ONE major difference between the Life and Society subject and the Citizenship, Economics and Society subject.
Using Context and Glossary, explain how the revamped subject will “strengthen students’ understanding of China”.
Based on Glossary and the cartoon, what was the purpose of Liberal Studies? How does the artist portray criticisms of the subject?
Using Context, explain how the cartoon might also be applicable to Life and Society.
News: Education Bureau says revision of life and society will ensure it can meet students’ needs and ‘keep abreast of the times’
Aiming for a full roll-out of the new subject in 2024, authorities say the revamp is timely as it has been more than 10 years since Life and Society was introduced
Schools have been given one month to submit their views on how to implement the new subject
Hong Kong’s Education Bureau revealed earlier this month that the Life and Society curriculum for pupils in Form One to Three at public sector schools would be overhauled over the next two years to focus on national security and fostering patriotism.
A spokesman for the bureau said some 75 per cent of Hong Kong’s about 450 public secondary schools offered Life and Society as a subject, adding that the revised syllabus included newly created topics on media literacy and last year’s electoral overhaul.
“It has been over 10 years since the launch of the existing Life and Society curriculum in 2010,” the bureau wrote in a circular. “Hence, review and revision of the Life and Society curriculum is needed to ensure that the curriculum content can meet students’ needs and social development and keep abreast of the times.”
“In the meantime, the related curriculum guides for the secondary level have been updated.”
The government has given schools one month to submit their view on how to implement the Citizenship, Economics and Society course, with the bureau aiming to understand each institution’s readiness and needs.
The Education Bureau would supply teaching materials to schools that wanted to introduce the new subject from the next academic year, a spokesman said, adding they could also refer to current Life and Society textbooks.
In response to the announcement, Wong Ching-yung, principal of Scientia Secondary School in Ho Man Tin, said the new curriculum would teach pupils to “love the country” and complement non-academic activities such as flag-raising ceremonies.
He added that the subject would prepare students for the compulsory Citizenship and Social Development course introduced for senior forms last year to replace the controversial Liberal Studies subject.
“I think the bureau will soon reform General Studies in primary schools; it is just being done step by step,” Wong said, referring to a compulsory subject for younger pupils.
To what extent do you agree with the Education Bureau that the revised subject will be able to “meet students’ needs and social development and keep abreast of the times”? Explain using News, Context and your own knowledge.
Is one month enough time for schools to provide feedback on the new proposed subject? Explain.
Issue: International universities may not automatically recognise Hong Kong’s new Citizenship and Social Development Subject
Overseas universities have yet to determine if entrance requirements for Hong Kong applicants will change
Chairman of the Hong Kong Direct Subsidy Scheme Schools Council has called on the Education Bureau to clarify the matter with overseas institutions
Hong Kong’s revamped Liberal Studies subject, now called Citizenship and Social Development, might not be automatically recognised by overseas universities. Some leading institutions said they would need time to consider their decision.
Before the revamp, local and overseas universities recognised the core Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) subjects, which were Liberal Studies, Mathematics, Chinese Language and English Language.
The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) webpage said 300 overseas tertiary institutions had indicated their acceptance of students with DSE qualifications. Of these schools, 65 institutions had previously stipulated that applicants should secure a pass, or attain at least level three in Liberal Studies in the seven-level grading scale, as one of the entrance requirements, according to the Post’s analysis.
The Post has posed questions to 30 of the universities which have rankings in one of the major leagues – compiled by education information firm Quacquarelli Symond – on whether they would still consider the new subject as one of the requirements and 10 of them replied.
None of them said they would take the new subject as the equivalent of Liberal Studies. Liberal Studies was graded according to the DSE’s seven-point grading system, but Citizenship and Social Development would only have two grades: “attained” or “not attained”.
A spokeswoman for the SOAS University of London said they would review all entry requirements at the start of each academic year. It would consider the new subject and if any amendments would need to be made, she said.
Dion Chen, chairman of the Hong Kong Direct Subsidy Scheme Schools Council, called on education authorities to quickly clarify the matter with overseas institutions.
“It takes time for students to apply for overseas universities. It’s better to have it settled so the students can get the process started earlier,” he said.
The first cohort of pupils studying the new core subject will sit the university entrance exams in 2024.
Identify and explain TWO potential reasons overseas universities might not automatically recognise Citizenship and Social Development.
If overseas universities were to recognise Citizenship and Social Development, how might it affect schools’ feedback for Citizenship, Economics and Society?
List ONE major difference between the Life and Society subject and the Citizenship, Economics and Society subject. Life and Society seeks to develop students’ awareness of global events and issues, while Citizenship, Economics and Society is focused on nurturing a sense of national identity, promoting students’ understanding of China and strengthening their feelings of belonging.
Using Context and Glossary, explain how the revamped subject will “strengthen students’ understanding of China”. It does so by having half of the modules related to national security and national identity. It also focuses on different aspects of national education and national security for different forms so that students can learn them in a more in-depth manner.
Based on Glossary and the cartoon, what was the purpose of Liberal Studies? How does the artist portray criticisms of the subject? The original purpose of Liberal Studies was to encourage students to think outside the box, and the artist portrays criticisms of the subject by saying the government did not like how students were encouraged to think outside its guidelines.
Using Context, explain how the cartoon might also be applicable to Life and Society. Similar to how Liberal Studies has been revised to promote national security and patriotism, Life and Society, which had some similar themes, will be revamped to focus on these goals as well.
To what extent do you agree with the Education Bureau that the revised subject will be able to “meet students’ needs and social development and keep abreast of the times”? Explain using News, Context and your own knowledge. The revised subject might not really be useful in meeting students’ needs and social development because it is so heavily focused on national education and national security and lacking in personal development topics such as mental health which is essential to students’ needs. On the other hand, it does keep them abreast of the times in terms of their understanding of China, the national security law and Hong Kong’s Basic Law, though it would also benefit them to learn more about global issues.
Is one month enough time for schools to provide feedback on the new proposed subject? Explain. Yes, because educators will need to consider factors such as what teaching materials are available, whether teachers are adequately trained to teach the subject, how it will be tested, how to best implement the subject and whether it is necessary since elements of national education are also taught in other subjects.
Identify and explain TWO potential reasons overseas universities might not automatically recognise Citizenship and Social Development. (1) The new subject differs from Liberal Studies in terms of grading, making it difficult to understand the equivalent score on the new subject. (2) Citizenship and Social Development is so focused on China that it may not be in line with global knowledge that overseas universities may be looking for.
If overseas universities were to recognise Citizenship and Social Development, how might it affect schools’ feedback for Citizenship, Economics and Society? If the universities were to recognise Citizenship and Social Development, Hong Kong schools would be more inclined to agree with the Education Bureau’s plans to revamp Life and Society because the revised syllabus will prepare students for Citizenship and Social Development in senior forms.
Citizenship, Economics and Society
the revised subject will have only 12 modules, compared to the 29 modules in Life and Society. According to the new subject’s 77-page curriculum framework, half of its modules relate to national security and national identity. The first module, covering “life skills” for Form One students, is designed to raise awareness of national security and following the law. Form Two students will study governance in the city to better understand Beijing’s overall jurisdiction and the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”. Form Three students will learn about the relationship between national security and China’s participation in international affairs in terms of resources, military and overseas interests, and they will strengthen their sense of belonging to the country.
Core DSE subjects
students are required to study four compulsory core subjects – Chinese Language, English Language, Mathematics, and Citizenship and Social Development / Liberal Studies – and can choose between one to four elective subjects
the subject was introduced to public sector schools in 2009 with its syllabus aimed at promoting social awareness and critical thinking skills among senior secondary students. It was replaced by Citizenship and Social Development last September with a syllabus focused on national security, identity, lawfulness and patriotism.
Life and Society
the subject was introduced in 2012 as an optional course that schools could choose for students in Form One, Two and Three. It covers everything from personal and social development to the economy and sociopolitical systems of Hong Kong, mainland China and beyond.