Opposition to the introduction of national education has escalated, with more than 1,000 parents calling on the government to shelve the planned launch in September. The National Education Parents' Concern Group has signed an open letter which it hopes to publish in three Chinese-language newspapers ahead of a protest march on Sunday. It has raised HK$120,000 to support this purpose. The group said it has the backing of 30 personalities, including outspoken Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and political commentators Ching Cheong and Allen Lee Peng-fei.
Group convener Eva Chan Sik-chee said the parents want the government to withdraw its "Moral and National Education Curriculum Guide," claiming it is biased and outdated, with many "ridiculous" examples including a vague concept of China and the Communist Party. The guide allegedly ignores the concept of autonomy which Hong Kong has been granted under the Basic Law. Chan said most parents are alarmed at the teaching material's "brainwashing." They demanded that the government launch a comprehensive consultation with parents, teachers and students.
The group said children's knowledge of China should go beyond the narrowly construed nationalism, and that the students instead receive civic education, which teaches the role of civilians at the local, national and international levels, in line with global standards. The group also condemned the Education Bureau for "misusing public funds by subsidizing the pro-Beijing National Education Centre to publish the biased and flawed teaching manual."
Chan called on all schools to think clearly before agreeing to introduce the subject. "I don't believe so many sponsoring bodies would have come out against the launch of the subject had there been a full consultation beforehand," Chan said. "If schools insist on teaching the new subject, parents should scrutinize the content and teaching methods." Tsang Kwok-fung, who has two young children, fears that opinions could be twisted to appear as facts. He said he would prefer his children to study in a school that does not teach the new subject.
Green Peace campaign manager Gloria Chang Wan-ki called on parents to voice their opposition because it will be their children who will suffer the consequences. About 10,000 people are expected to join the protest march from Victoria Park to the Government Headquarters on Sunday. It is organized by 14 bodies including the Professional Teachers Union and Federation of Student Unions.
Meanwhile, Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim fended off criticism on his blog and stressed that a four-month consultation was carried out last year. Those who took part, he added, included academics and primary and secondary school teachers and principals. Don't Forget to click the "THANKS" button