Students from a school in Tung Chung, New Territories, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, kick off a new semester by holding a flag-raising ceremony on Sept 2, 2019. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Education system must not deviate from 'one country, two systems' ideal
The central government said on Friday that the education system in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region should be brought back on track to fit the "one country, two systems" principle.
The call was made by central government agencies overseeing Hong Kong affairs as they reprimanded activist groups organizing an online ballot that incites secondary students to boycott classes over a proposed national security law for the city.
In several Hong Kong schools, education has deviated from the "one country, two systems" principle, while students are being manipulated to impede the passage of the security law, a spokesperson for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said in a strongly worded statement.
It's the duty of education authorities, as well as members of Hong Kong society, to shield the city's campuses from advocacy of separatism and violence, as these may cost youngsters their future, the spokesperson said.
Hong Kong has seen a year of anti-government protests, triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill, with unrest only stalled during the coronavirus outbreak. Nearly 9,000 people were arrested for protest-related offenses, with about 40 percent being students, police said.
In a separate statement on Friday, a spokesperson for the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region expressed its firm support for the SAR government to educate the city's youth about national security and national identity, in a better-structured system that is in line with the "one country, two systems" principle.
In the statement, the spokesperson cited a few controversial education issues, including potentially biased textbooks, exam questions and curricula that contain anti-China elements and lack a full picture of history.
The spokesperson said the chaos has revealed that many youngsters lack a sense of national identity, while it is a task remaining for all education workers in the city to cultivate a young generation that can contribute to Hong Kong and the country.
In recent years, there have been political groups, or even some teachers, bringing politics into Hong Kong schools, disrupting teaching activities and undermining student development, said the spokesperson.
Voicing support for disciplinary measures against misbehaving teachers and students, the spokesperson said some teachers have betrayed their professional conduct and ethics by expressing radical opinions in classrooms and even encouraging students to take part in illegal and violent activities.
The Education Bureau will require all teachers to complete a mandatory training program on professional conduct and national development beginning in September.
Wong Yuk-shan, president of the Open University of Hong Kong, said the two statements on Friday show Beijing's confidence in the SAR government in its dealing with defects in the city's education system.
The professor said Hong Kong students lack a clear understanding of the "one country, two systems" principle and the country's history, and the government has a duty to close loopholes in the curriculum and the whole system.
Students should cherish the opportunity to study in classrooms after months of coronavirus-led class suspensions and not partake in school boycotts, Wong told local media.
Wang Guiguo, a law professor at the City University of Hong Kong, said students should not express their political views by improper means, but face their responsibilities as Chinese people and accept the reality of "one country, two systems".