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  Strengthening national education has become a top priority for the SAR

Wong Kam-leung, chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers

 

What has happened in Hong Kong in the past year reflected dire inadequacies in ethical and national education in schools, where students have been largely deprived of proper knowledge about Chinese history and culture, much less about the Basic Law and “one country, two systems”. 

 

In recent years, politics — particularly separatist ideas — have infiltrated Hong Kong schools, where students are used for political profits. By hoodwinking students into boycotting school for various political demands or agendas, certain political groups have severely disrupted the daily operations of schools and turned many minors into rioters, who not only put themselves and others in danger but also break Hong Kong law more often than not.

 

Nearly 9,000 individuals were arrested for public order as well as criminal offenses during the riots in the past year. Among them more than 3,600 are young students, or 40 percent of all arrested offenders. Some of those have been prosecuted, found guilty and sentenced to prison terms by local courts. Their future is now in jeopardy because of the criminal record on their backs.

 

The chaotic situation in the education sector exposes the serious lack of nation awareness and national identity among many young students. As a matter of fact, many schools have allowed politically motivated teachers to lead their students astray, away from the right racks of “one country, two systems”. To address this critical issue, Hong Kong society, particularly the education sector, is obliged to instill in the younger generation a common understanding of this political framework, and build up an education system in tune with it.

 

What has happened in Hong Kong in the past year reflected dire inadequacies in ethical and national education in schools, where students have been largely deprived of proper knowledge about Chinese history and culture, much less about the Basic Law and “one country, two systems”. The SAR has no more time to lose in stepping up efforts to educate students on the nation’s Constitution, the Basic Law and standard nation awareness at all schools; it is the top priority for the education sector from now on.

 

National education has been so perniciously demonized that promoting it on campus has been very difficult for many schools in recent years. A poll conducted by the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers at the end of last year found that, due to prevailing social animosity, about 20 percent of local schools had to reduce their national education activities, such as exchange trips to acquaint students with their mainland peers and national flag-raising ceremonies. Some other daily activities designed to enhance the pupils’ sense of national identity also suffered in many schools in recent years.

 

The SAR government must give schools stronger support in conducting national education aimed at providing students with systematic knowledge about the nation and its current conditions. Education workers should always keep the healthy development of future generations in mind and do their best professionally. They are required to guide students in positive thinking and keep them as far away from violence and hatred as possible, in addition to learning about the country without bias.

 

It is a right move for schools to hold national flag-raising ceremonies with the national anthem as accompaniment as often as they see fit to nurture students’ love for the nation. More classes and teaching materials designed to enhance national education should be added to standard curricula, including Chinese history and culture, latest developments in the country, the Basic Law and “one country, two systems”. No efforts should be spared in arming students with adequate knowledge in their formative years.

 

After months of home schooling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, pupils should treasure their time in school and make every minute there count. They must not waste their precious time on unworthy things and never participate in illegal activities no matter what excuse is used, unless one is willing to throw the rest of their life away for nothing.

 

June 23, 2020 (Wen Wei Po)

 

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