Former members of the now-defunct Scholarism have set up a new group to promote an alternative education system in which students would take an active role in designing their learning experience.

The new group, named “Edu Lab,” aims to engage students in designing a learning environment with a greater degree of “equality and democracy.” Similar to Scholarism, the Edu Lab will be raising public awareness and lobbying the government against issues such as the “mainlandisation” of Hong Kong’s education system and the use of Mandarin language in teaching Chinese.

Scholarism. File Photo: Cloud.

Scholarism, best known for its leadership role in the 2012 anti-national education curriculum protests, disbanded in March to make way for the formation of the Edu Lab and the Demosistō party, which won a seat at the legislature in September. The Edu Lab is not affiliated with any political party.

‘Reclaim power’

Spokesperson Prince Wong Ji-yuet, former leader of Scholarism, told Stand News that she and her colleagues started the Edu Lab because they felt the need to promote the voices of students. She said the group will place a greater focus on policy planning and discussions.

Wong, who participated in a hunger strike during the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy protests, said she had once felt defeated partly because people around her were discouraging.

“But I really couldn’t just walk away. I felt the need to keep up the fight because I want society to become better, and because there are people whom I care about in this society,” she said.

Prince Wong Ji-yuet. File Photo: Cloud.

Her colleague Ocean Ng Oi-shun said: “Students have a different perspective on education than adults. The public should trust that students are capable of forming their own views of education and allow them to reclaim the power to design their own learning experience.”

The duo expressed hope that society will listen to students on issues ranging from school rules and the examination system to campus democracy.

Independence

The pair said that the group does not have a position on Hong Kong independence, but opposes any attempt to ban discussions on the issue as students are entitled to freedom of expression.

The Education Bureau has taken various measures in an effort to ban discussion of independence on campus. It warned in August that teachers could lose their professional qualifications if they advocate Hong Kong independence in schools. It also issued guidelines to schools reminding them that it is inappropriate to discuss independence or promote political ideologies on campus.

The Edu Lab, established on Sunday, consists of 20 core members and volunteers. Most of the members are formerly with Scholarism. Half of them are secondary school students and the rest are pursuing post-secondary studies.

The group will be receiving HK$700,000 of funds previously donated to Scholarism. At the time of disbandment, Scholarism held HK$1.45 million and announced that it would transfer HK$700,000 to the new student group and the remaining HK$750,000 to a fund for legal assistance. The Demosistō party did not receive any funding from Scholarism.

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Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.