Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung has said that implementing national education is “a must.” He unveiled plans requiring Chinese history to be taught as a compulsory independent subject in local schools on Tuesday.

At a media gathering, Yeung stressed to reporters the importance of pushing for national education. “[We have to think of ways] to strengthen knowledge and recognition towards the country amongst the younger generation in Hong Kong,” Yeung said.

Yeung said that young people should learn about the relationship between Hong Kong and China, as well as the country’s constitutional law and systems, Ming Pao reported. “This is necessary, because Hong Kong is a part of China, and we are Chinese people in Hong Kong.”

Kevin Yeung. File Photo: GovHK.

Last year, a non-binding motion requiring Chinese history to be taught as an independent, compulsory subject at the junior secondary level was passed in the legislature.

In June, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said that Chinese history should be a compulsory subject for junior high students. Yeung previously said the bureau must fulfil what was promised by the chief executive.

He said there will be a second consultation draft on the plans in October, which will highlight topics that the bureau believes to be important throughout the different dynasties and eras in Chinese history.

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“As Chinese people, we must have an integrated understanding of our own country’s history,” Yeung said. He added that this was the motivation and driving force behind a push to teach Chinese history as an independent subject.

File photo: GovHK.

Currently, around 80 per cent to 90 per cent of schools have made Chinese history an independent subject, while others combine Chinese and World history into a single subject.

Echoing earlier comments made by Lam, Yeung also said the bureau will provide more opportunities for students to have more exposure to mainland people and issues, Sing Tao Daily reported.

With regards to Hong Kong history, Yeung said that the bureau did not yet have a view on how to handle controversial topics in history, such as the 1967 riots or the Tiananmen massacre.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.