xi's moments
Home | HK Macao Taiwan

Education flaws linked to HK unrest

China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-09-02 09:34

Compulsory liberal studies and textbooks blamed by some for misleading young people

Airport security guards hold the gate to stop protesters from entering the Hong
Kong International Airport on Sunday. [Photo/Agencies]

Editor's note: This is the first of two stories in which China Daily will examine educational issues that experts say are a root cause of young people's participation in the Hong Kong protests.

As young people in Hong Kong continue to join protests that have grown increasingly violent, experts have said flaws in the city's education system have played a role in the social unrest.

Some blame the compulsory liberal studies curriculum that is part of Hong Kong's secondary school education, while others find fault with the textbooks that are used.

Since early June, the anti-government demonstrations, which initially targeted the now-suspended extradition law amendment bill, have pitted mostly young protesters against the police.

In numerous clashes, radicals have run wild, blocking roads, attacking government buildings, vandalizing the Legislative Council building, and besieging police headquarters and numerous police stations.

Black-clad mobs wearing masks, goggles and helmets have fought police with a variety of potentially lethal weapons, including firebombs, slingshots and sharpened metal pipes.

Most of the rioting protesters are not hardened criminals, but ordinary young men and women, including many university students who have, according to some observers, lost their moral bearing.

Charges against the protesters include possession of offensive weapons, assaulting police officers, joining unlawful assemblies and obstructing police. Police records show that among the hundreds of people arrested for taking part in violent protests since June, at least 15 have been under the age of 16.

Former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa has said the blame lies with the liberal studies curriculum at secondary schools, which he said has misled young people.

"The liberal studies curriculum is a failure," said Tung, who is vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the nation's top political advisory body. "It is one of the reasons behind the youth problems today."

His remarks were all the more striking because Tung - who was the first chief executive of the special administrative region after Hong Kong's return to China in 1997 - led the administration that initiated the curriculum.

Eventually, in 2009, liberal studies was made a compulsory subject in the Diploma of Secondary Education curriculum. To be admitted to Hong Kong's universities, students must achieve a grade of at least 2 on a scale of 0 to 5.

The subject has six modules - personal development and interpersonal relationships, Hong Kong today, modern China, globalization, public health, and energy technology and the environment.

Tai Hay-lap, the vice-chairman of the Tin Ka Ping Foundation, a nonprofit charity organization in Hong Kong, said that in addition to the curriculum itself, the textbooks are also a problem. Hong Kong's Education Bureau has failed to ensure the quality of the textbooks, Tai said.

Tai was a member of the city's Education Commission in 2000. Tai, along with then-chairman Antony Leung Kam-chung and another member, Cheng Kai-ming, provided the major force behind the reform of Hong Kong's educational system at that time.

1 2 Next   >>|
Global Edition
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349