The Education Bureau will focus on bolstering national security education and monitoring the quality of the city’s teachers, while e-learning funding is set to be boosted, Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced during Wednesday’s policy address.
Schools should implement educational activities on the importance of national security and One Country Two Systems in order to instil “a sense of identity, belonging and responsibility towards the nation, the Chinese race and our society,” Lam said.
Study tours of the mainland will also be integrated into the city’s primary and secondary curriculum to encourage a sensitivity amongst students “about the essence of Chinese culture for nurturing their moral character and cultural identity.”
Lam said last year’s civil unrest called into question the “effectiveness” of the city’s education system: “We cannot bear to see that – with the infiltration of politics into school campuses – students are drawn into political turbulence or even misled to engage in illegal and violent acts, for which they have to take legal responsibilities that will impact on their lives.”
“The social incidents also reveal that the law-abiding awareness of some young people is weak and that positive values such as mutual understanding and mutual respect are lacking,” she added.
Lam stated that 40 per cent of the 10,000 people arrested in connection with last year’s pro-democracy protests were students, of whom almost 2,000 were from primary and secondary schools. Lam called the figures “heartbreaking”.
‘Enhancing’ teacher quality
Lam said the Education Bureau would proactively work to “enhance” the quality of the city’s teachers. She added that teacher training would be strengthened to ensure the quality of teacher’s “ethics, character and conduct.”.
The chief executive also committed to executing “stringent actions against teachers” who are found by the Education Bureau to be “incompetent” or found to have committed serious misconduct. Stringent actions include cancelling teacher registrations.
Two teachers have been deregistered since October. One was alleged to have spread ideas related to Hong Kong independence in his classroom.
Lam said that education must be geared towards protecting students from the influence of politically-motivated “fake news”: “In the face of the complicated political environment in Hong Kong and the proliferation of misinformation in social media, it is the shared responsibility of the Government, society, education sector and parents to find a way to protect our students.”
Bolstered e-learning support
Meanwhile, the government will commit HK$2 billion to a three-year e-learning programme to support remote learning arrangements during the coronavirus pandemic. The new scheme will support online sharing platforms for teaching resources while subsidising student access to online learning through the provision of Wi-Fi routers and devices for needy students.
Hong Kong’s lower primary schools and kindergartens were suspended on Monday in response to a steep rise in Covid-19 infections this week.