Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung has denied there was any interference from the mainland over a new requirement in the upcoming national anthem law under which educators will be forced to teach the national anthem to primary and secondary schools students.
Section nine of the proposed national anthem bill states that the secretary for education must enforce its teaching at primary and secondary school. Students would have to learn to sing the anthem, and learn about the history and spirit of the song. They would also be educated on the etiquette for playing and singing March of the Volunteers.
Special schools for disabled students and international schools will also be required to teach students the anthem.
Yeung said the measure was consistent with the Education Bureau’s usual practice in issuing curriculum guidance.
“So it is just following the existing local system, the local education system, in terms of learning and teaching. So there is no question of any interference from the mainland,” Yeung told reporters on Friday.
Yeung said he hoped all schools would follow the guidelines.
“But for international schools and special schools, we all know that situations at different schools are different. Of course, they have their professional judgments on how to teach and how students can learn,” Yeung said.
“We had preliminary talks with international schools a few months ago, and in general, international schools understand our requirements, and they will have school-based lessons on the basis of their own situations.”
Asked if schools would be penalised for not teaching the anthem, Yeung said the part of the bill on education did not stipulate any penalty.
“But of course, when we make the direction, if there are any problems that the schools face in teaching the national anthem, we will provide professional advice to the schools,” he said.
When asked what schools should do if students failed to act solemnly as the national anthem is played, Yeung said the decision on how best to respond would be left to the school itself.