Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that schools should help students cultivate a sense of national identity.

Her first policy address said that Chinese history will be an independent compulsory subject for junior secondary level, starting in the 2018/19 school year.

It said the Education Bureau will “continue to enrich curricular contents to promote students’ understanding of Chinese history and culture.”

carrie lam policy address
Carrie Lam. Photo: GovHK.

Currently, all secondary schools offering the mainstream curriculum are required to teach Chinese History at the junior secondary level, but it does not have to be an independent subject.

Asked if the subject will become a de facto national education curriculum, she said she was not an expert in education, but the government will listen to frontline teachers.

“It is the intrinsic duty of school education to help students to understand the development of the history, culture, economy, technology, political system and law of their country and to cultivate in them a sense of their national identity,” the policy address said.

It added that there may be more visits for teachers and students to the Belt and Road provinces and cities, the Guangdong‑Hong Kong‑Macao Bay Area and enterprises in the innovation and technology sector.

“We expect that through the learning of Chinese history and meaningful activities, students will develop positive values and attitudes, become knowledgeable and responsible citizens with a sense of our national identity, and contribute to our country and our society.”

Civic Square, Hong Kong government headquarters
Civic Square, Hong Kong government headquarters. File Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

New civil service college

Lam proposed to establish a new civil service college in Hong Kong, placing emphasis on deepening civil servants’ understanding of China’s development and the relationship between Beijing and Hong Kong.

It will also aim to enhance civil servants’ awareness of international affairs, as well as promote exchanges with civil servants in other places.

Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam said he was concerned about the values that the new college will teach civil servants.

“Who will be teaching at the college… Will it be de facto national education for civil servants?” he said.

But Lam disagreed and said an academy for Hong Kong’s 180,000 civil servants was long overdue.

“Civil servants are mature people. How will they be brainwashed? I don’t quite understand,” she said.

carrie lam civil service college
Chief Executive Carrie Lam visiting the Singaporean Civil Service College. File Photo: GovHK.

She said civil servants’ work performance may be affected if they do not have a deep understanding of the  “Belt and Road” and “Guangdong‑Hong Kong‑Macao Bay Area” initiatives, along with an understanding of innovation in China.

She also said the government has often sent civil servants to study at the China National School of Administration in recent years.

“They are also learning similar things there,” she said, adding that Beijing experts can come to Hong Kong to teach once the new college is established.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.