Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung has said that Beijing officials stationed in Hong Kong meeting local principals and teachers does not amount to interference in local education.
Li Lu, the director general of the education, science and technology department at the China Liaison Office, had said he would meet with principals and teachers to hear their opinions on the Chinese history curriculum, and that it was a common practice to hold such gatherings.
Yeung said he did not believe the meetings would affect education work.
“We cannot say this is interference as they meet principals to communicate and understand [education],” he said. “I have said at the Legislative Council yesterday, Hong Kong’s education policy is decided by us in accordance to students’ interests and Hong Kong’s long-term interest.”
The meetings came as Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s first policy address stated that Chinese history will become an independent compulsory subject at the junior secondary level, starting from the 2018/19 school year. China’s Minister of Education Chen Baosheng has also said that the Hong Kong government has a responsibility to implement national education, and said that the emergence of the Hong Kong independence movement was linked to education.
Key incidents excluded
The Education Bureau has said that Hong Kong’s 1967 leftist riots and the 1989 Tiananmen massacre will not be included in the revised course syllabus for junior secondary Chinese history classes. Instead, it will be left to teachers and schools to decide whether or not to teach these topics.
Li said schools can talk about many important issues in the 5,000 years of history of China, and it will be up to teachers’ professional judgment on how to teach their subjects.
Last week, Yeung denied accusations of “brainwashing,” after the Education Bureau encouraged schools to let their students watch a live broadcast of a forum attended by Li Fei on November 16. Li is the deputy secretary general of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.
Meanwhile, Yeung said he was saddened by Hong Kong fans jeering the national anthem at a match on Thursday night.
He said: “Schools have been teaching the national anthem. You asked what should we do in the long run, on one hand we will consider things in accordance with the actual situation, and on the other hand we can only decide after the local legislation [of the national anthem law].”