Published: 07th June 2021
Most Hong Kong schools say guidelines under national security law hard to implement
Out of 218 schools polled, a little more than half of the kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, were ready to teach national education
Nearly 80 per cent of schools in Hong Kong have said new guidelines for "instilling patriotism" in children, under the city's national security law, were "very difficult" to implement, according to a survey.
Out of 218 schools polled, a little more than half of the kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, were ready to teach national education. "We noticed that almost 80 per cent of the schools said there is a certain level of difficulty in teaching national security education," said Tong Sau-chai, Shine Tak Foundation's vice-chairman. "And of course there is also a portion (of teachers) who are worried they may be teaching the wrong thing," he added.
This comes as schools in Hong Kong are facing a steady exodus of students in the wake of draconian security law that ushered in a citywide crackdown on public criticism of the authorities, the Voice of America (VOA) reported citing data from a major teachers' union. Many parents are emigrating overseas amid safety concerns, as a newly established force of national security police have been arresting people for peaceful political activities, said PTU head Fung Wai-wah.
Back in February, Hong Kong had introduced new regulations for how schools should operate, months after Beijing imposed the draconian national security law giving authorities powers to further impose crackdowns among the people of the region. The new policies are outlined in a series of circulars as well as new teaching materials, including videos, picture books, and graphics, with cartoon Chinese soldiers and local police officers helping students understand their "responsibilities" under the oppressive security law.
They go into "granular detail" over how national security issues "should be taught across a range of subjects" as well as how administrators and teachers should handle discipline issues and failure to respect the new guidelines. According to an editorial published in China Daily on Sunday, the release of the curriculum and assessment guide for the new subject Citizenship and Social Development marks a key step forward for education in the city.
The editorial titled "Eliminate political poison from HK classrooms" also stated that "The new course will help foster a healthier sense of identity among its youth and give them a more accurate view of the world and history." During 2019 citywide demonstrations, both university and high school students were at the forefront of pro-democracy protests which rocked Hong Kong.
During the unrest and in the run-up to the national security law being introduced, many pro-government figures blamed the city's liberal education curriculum, as well as teachers, for supposedly radicalising the city's young people. In her annual policy address last November, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, the city's Beijing-appointed leader, had said the 2019 protests had "led many to question again the effectiveness of Hong Kong's education."