The Home Affairs Bureau will receive a one-fifth budget increase for works related to “social harmony and civic education” in the upcoming fiscal year 2016-17. One of the aims of the section includes the promotion of “civic education/national education outside [of] schools”. The announcement was made as part of Wednesday’s 2016 budget.
The bureau will be granted HK$513.7 million this year for such projects – a 20 percent increase compared to the HK$428 million assigned last year.
The bureau pledged to “continue to work closely with the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education and the Commission on Youth in promoting national education among the general public, particularly the youth.”
It also said that it would “continue to enhance support given to community organisations in providing Hong Kong youths with exchange and internship opportunities in the mainland” over the coming year.
The bureau estimated that 25,100 young Hongkongers will go on exchange and internship programmes to the mainland in 2016-7. This also represents a 20 percent increase from last year, when the number totalled 20,959.
Back from the dead
Patriotic education was a controversial programme introduced by the government in 2012. It called for Chinese patriotism lessons to be introduced in schools. Dissatisfaction against the policy led to a large-scale protests outside the government offices at Tamar Park led by student group Scholarism. The government later announced that the policy would be put aside indefinitely. However, there remains concern that it will make a comeback in other forms, such as exchange trips to the mainland.
Lau Kong-wah, previously the under secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, is currently the secretary for Home Affairs.