For years, parents and students in the semi-autonomous city have feared a shift toward “patriotic education” modeled on China, with an earlier attempt to introduce such a curriculum that was defeated by mass protests in 2012. The new rules, which come on the heels of both the New Security Law and the crackdown on the movement The opposition in the city goes beyond what was previously proposed.
“Schools have an important role to play,” he added.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Ip Kin-yeon, a former lawmaker and vice president of the Professional Teachers’ Union, criticized the government for announcing the new policies without consulting teachers and parents.
“There is a great deal of sensitivity and unpredictability when it comes to teaching National Security Law,” he said. “This will lead to tremendous pressure and anxiety among principals and teachers.”
They go into minute details of how national security issues are taught across a range of topics, from general studies and history to biology and music, as well as how officials and educators deal with issues of discipline and disrespect the new guidelines.
Both teachers and students who break the rules face potential criticism, with administrators advising to involve the police in the event of “serious” crimes, while books and other materials deemed offensive to national security should be removed from school grounds, although few precise guidelines are provided on what materials Is being taken up.
The rules state that “if an employee is found to have committed any act of disrespect for the country, the school must provide appropriate advice or warning, and take care of that employee’s future performance accordingly”.
Students, whether in college or high schools, have been at the forefront of the anti-government protests and demands for democracy that shook Hong Kong for most of 2019. During the unrest and in the run-up to the introduction of the National Security Act, many supporters and government figures blamed the city’s liberal education curriculum. And also the teachers, in radicalizing the city’s youth.
“We lost two generations, we lost them in schools,” senior advisor to Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam told CNN at the height of the unrest.
“The main problem is that you have a whole generation of young people who died against China, but really hate it,” the aide said, on the condition of anonymity. “How would you have a” one country, two systems “business if you had an entire generation that hates that country?
While members of the city’s democratic opposition rejected the allegations, noting that many of them had not received the supposedly radical lessons introduced only in 2009, this has not stopped the push to “reform” Hong Kong’s education system.
“We cannot bear to see that with politics infiltrating school campuses, students are attracted to political unrest or even misled into engaging in illegal and violent acts, for which they have to assume legal responsibilities that affect their lives,” Lamm, adding that “shared responsibility For government, society, the education sector and parents are finding a way to protect our students. “
Under the new guidelines, the inculcation of national security principles will begin early.
Kindergartens – private and public – are expected to instill in their students a greater knowledge of “Chinese history, Chinese culture and moral education,” which the guidelines say will “gradually build the identity of students as Chinese, thus laying the foundation for national security education.”
Starting at the age of six, all students in Hong Kong will receive new lessons aimed at helping them “understand the country’s history and development, the importance of national security, the national flag, the national emblem, and the national anthem”.
Elementary school students will be guided in singing the national anthem and raising the flag, while older children will discuss the rationale behind the law itself, and the importance of institutions such as the People’s Liberation Army.
And international schools – popular with both foreign residents and more affluent locals – are not exempt from the new guidelines.
While private educational institutions are not directly under the control of the Economic Development Board, rules issued on Thursday state that international and private schools “have a responsibility to assist their students (regardless of race and nationality) to gain a correct and objective understanding … the concept of national security and security law.” National, as well as the duty to develop a spirit of law-abiding among their students. “
Others move to Canada and Australia, where many Hong Kong residents hold dual residency, while many prominent activists and politicians have sought asylum in the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States.
“(The exodus) is already happening, especially for families with young children,” opposition lawmaker Lester Shum said last year. “If I put myself in their shoes, I can understand the fear and anxiety they have about the next generation. Children cannot have bright prospects or a bright future in Hong Kong, and in order to protect that … it is understandable why people want to leave.”
Concerns for teachers
For school staff, administrators and teachers alike, the new rules open up a disturbing possibility for students to be informed of charges of violating national security, which could lead to them losing their jobs or, in extreme cases, arresting them.
While for many elderly Chinese these practices have disturbing echoes of the Cultural Revolution, with teenage Red Guards frequently mistreating and killing teachers, such campaigns have escalated under Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“The guiding principle stressed adhering to the Party’s leadership of the program’s work and following the basic task of nurturing competent youth who are well-prepared to join the Communist cause,” the Xinhua News Agency reported.
CNN’s Eric Cheung contributed to this report.