Macau is to write and publish Chinese history textbooks in collaboration with mainland publisher People’s Education Press, Fernando Chui Sai-on, the Chief Executive of Macau, said on Wednesday. The textbook will be used in secondary schools from the school year beginning in 2019.

The publisher is “under the direct leadership of the Ministry of Education (MOE) of the People’s Republic of China,” according to its own website.

Fernando Chui Sai-on
Fernando Chui Sai-on. .

Chui was speaking at a question and answer session at Macau’s Legislative Council. He was asked about the lack of teachers and a single unified textbook for Chinese History at Macau’s secondary schools.

people's education press
People’s Education Press.

His statement was met with criticism online. Some questioned whether it violated Macau’s Basic Law’s Article 122, which states that schools may choose their own teaching materials.

Ruins of St. Paul’s in Macau. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Ruins of St. Paul’s in Macau. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Education and Youth Affairs Bureau then released a statement the same night denying that the collaboration meant there was to be a single unified textbook used across the territory.

“[The collaboration will] give schools and teachers teaching material that is both excellent and fitting for Macau students’ needs, allowing for teachers to have more teaching resources at hand to develop more diverse ways of teaching,” the statement said.

The bureau also restated that schools had the freedom to select their own teaching material and that the government would “as always, follow the law to protect the schools’ rights of academic freedom and freedom to choose teaching materials.”

Horace Cheung
Horace Cheung. File photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, a non-binding motion to make Chinese History a separate subject for junior secondary schools was passed in the Legislative Council on Wednesday.

The motion was proposed by pro-Beijing DAB legislator Horace Cheung Kwok-kwan.

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Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.