National security content added to basic subjects “Mainlandization” of education in Hong Kong

Since the mass protests in Hong Kong in 2019, the Hong Kong government has accelerated its efforts to revamp Education in an attempt to inspire patriotic fervor in the younger generation. The Hong Kong Education Bureau recently released new national security curriculum guidelines and educational materials, which seem to indicate that some subjects will receive a “facelift”.

According to the clear guidelines on national security education issued by the Hong Kong Education Bureau in February this year, national security education aims to cultivate students’ national concepts, national feelings, national identity, as well as the awareness and sense of responsibility to jointly safeguard national security, so that students can understand the spirit of the rule of law, so as to strengthen the concept of national security and law-abiding awareness, and train them to become good citizens.

National security content added to basic subjects?

The guidelines specifically name the subjects of Biology, General Studies and Geography, providing a framework for teaching how to incorporate national security content, including the requirement to introduce examples of the country’s environmental protection to increase students’ awareness of and interest in national symbols, history, Chinese nation and Culture, and national development; and to identify the need to maintain national security.

In an interview with our correspondent, Pan Lu, a former secondary school teacher in Suzhou, bluntly stated that the autonomy of education in Hong Kong has gradually lost its status, just like the freedom of publication and the freedom of press.

“The current Hong Kong Education Bureau has been completely reduced to the same nature as the local education bureau on the mainland, which has laid out such an educational framework in order to safeguard the interests of the party-state. In essence, there are similarities with the brainwashing education on the mainland.”

He added that it makes no sense to include Chinese national conditions in basic subjects.

“Subjects like general knowledge, biology, and geography are all basic competency subjects that have no national boundaries and serve as a kind of basic common sense. Why do we need to emphasize the development of the country, its symbols? It is to eliminate Hong Kong’s national identity; to cancel the direction of Hong Kong’s independent cultural development for more than 100 years, (and replace it with) a kind of return to continentalization.”

Hong Kong young people are too liberal so they rebel?

National security content added to basic subjects?

An earlier report in the New York Times analyzed that after the 2019 “anti-Send China” movement, pro-Beijing activists linked Hong Kong’s long-standing liberal education curriculum to the political enlightenment of young people, accusing Hong Kong’s education system of promoting liberal values and causing young people, the main force of the movement, to become radicalized, and therefore It is hoped that education can be used to “correct” the situation, to promote the official narrative, and to “ensure stability and unity”.

Tian Fangze, vice president of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union and a teacher of general studies, told reporters that the Hong Kong Education Bureau proposed a radical reform of the subject of general studies last year.

“(Including) halving the curriculum, changing the assessment mode, changing the content and changing the name. Now there is also a preliminary document that may abolish Liberal Studies. Curriculum changes will definitely have an impact, but it still depends on how professionally the teachers handle it and how much space there is by then.”

Education, cultural infiltration intensified?

Beijing has gone to great lengths to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, a former British colony, even going so far as to “rewrite” history.

At the end of last year, the Hong Kong Centre for Local History, an affiliate of the Hong Kong pro-establishment think tank “Unite Hong Kong Foundation,” published the first volume of a 7,000-year history of Hong Kong, which sparked a public debate.

Many scholars have criticized the book for its misleading perspective on some historical events, its lack of objectivity, and its length and detail in favor of the Chinese Communist Party. For example, it does not give a detailed account of the causes of the June 4 Incident or the suppression of Beijing’s troops; it does not mention the formation of the “Dawn Soldiers Regiment” by retired soldiers from many countries in the defense of Hong Kong, but describes in detail the “anti-Japanese” guerrilla force formed by China. “The “Dongjiang Column”, a Chinese guerrilla force, is not mentioned; the “enlightened rule of the British Hong Kong government” is withdrawn; and the events of Hong Kong’s social movements are downplayed.

Good education should not have only one voice

Dr. Leung Yan-wing, visiting associate professor at the Hong Kong University of Education, told reporters that civic education should be comprehensive and focused on cultivating critical patriots.

“(Civic education) must allow students to discuss controversial issues from multiple perspectives, and at the same Time, human rights education should be conducted to alleviate the exclusivity that may exist in national identity through the inclusiveness of human rights education.”

Leung Yan-wing also stressed that the current general education in Hong Kong only focuses on the enhancement of different aspects of China, but does not touch on the regressions and deficiencies in areas including human rights and universal values. He worries that under such circumstances, the students nurtured may lack critical thinking and become blind submissives who only see the progress of China and ignore the areas that should be improved.