The Hong Kong authorities has revealed to the schooling sector its plans to re-purpose Liberal Studies within the metropolis’s faculties, skewing it in direction of the patriotic indoctrination favored by Beijing.
The decade-old Liberal Studies program, blamed by China for a string of mass, pro-democracy and anti-government protests in Hong Kong in recent times, will now be repurposed as a car for China’s model of “patriotic education,” a proposal shelved following mass protests in 2009, in accordance to a 45-page round despatched to faculties in latest days.
The Education Bureau plans to “optimize” this system round 4 core topics, underneath which subjects will embrace “national security” and “national identity,” in addition to materials relating to China’s latest achievements.
There can also be a module on “Chinese culture and modern life,” which requires college students to full a mission on some facet of life in mainland China.
The identify of the topic may even be modified, with “citizenship and country,” “citizenship and social studies,” and “social education,” proposed as alternate options.
Tin Fong Chak, vp of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers Union, mentioned your complete premise of Liberal Studies had been to encourage essential considering, one thing that will probably be misplaced underneath the brand new curriculum.
“We are all very suspicious that this is merely a form of patriotic education,” Tin instructed RFA. “The values that we once cherished are disappeared.”
“We said a few months ago that this wasn’t about reforming Liberal Studies, but about killing it off,” he mentioned, including that the half through which college students find out about life in Hong Kong has been diminished to a dialogue of town’s interplay with mainland China.
Tin mentioned that whereas the Education Bureau had despatched out the round as a part of a session train, no real session with lecturers and faculty administration would doubtless happen, as they weren’t being requested for his or her opinions on the modifications.
He mentioned a number of selection and quick solutions could be rather more closely weighted in evaluation of scholars’ efficiency than earlier than, when the schooling sector had inspired essay-style solutions to show essential considering expertise.
“Now they will account for more than 30 percent of the overall grade, and it appears that students must give the officially approved point of view to pass,” he mentioned.
Policies goal youth
The transfer got here after Hong Kong chief Carrie Lam set out an array of insurance policies in November 2020 focusing on town’s youth, citing figures exhibiting that some 40 p.c of the ten,000 folks arrested in reference to the 2019 mass protest motion have been college students, out of which some 2,000 have been in major or secondary schooling on the time.
Echoing CCP officers, Lam blamed the “infiltration of politics into school campuses” for the looks of younger folks in pro-democracy protests in recent times, and introduced reforms to Liberal Studies to “[rectify] the previous deviation from the subject’s objective.”
The transfer to reform Liberal Studies got here because the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) listed Hong Kong in 87th place in its 2020 Democracy Index, downgrading it from “flawed democracy” to “hybrid regime.”
“A national security law that curtails Hong Kong’s political freedoms and undermines its judicial independence was passed in June,” the EIU report mentioned. “Over the course of the year, pro-democracy activists were arrested, and several hundred protesters were imprisoned.”
“Crackdown on opposition also continued—the central government sees no role in Hong Kong for parties that support greater local political autonomy for the territory,” it mentioned.
Mainland China ranks 151st in the identical index, and is described as an “authoritarian regime.”
Reported by Man Hoi Yan for RFA’s Cantonese Service, and by Hsia Hsiao-hwa for the Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.