Hong Kong’s government has told schools to promote “law-abidingness” and instruct pupils about China’s constitution in order to promote “a sense of national identity.”

The instructions were contained In memoranda issued by the Education Bureau on Wednesday and Thursday, ahead of China’s Constitution Day.

2020 Constitution Day forum. Photo: gov.hk, via video screenshot.

Teachers were given a list of activities, such as explaining to pupils during morning assembly their responsibility to understand the constitution and other issues.

“Hong Kong is an inseparable part of China: for us, as Chinese, learning and respecting the constitution is a given,” the memorandum read.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung said in a blog post that students must learn that the Basic Law’s legislative basis and power are derived from the Chinese constitution.

“Schools have to teach students well the relations between the ‘root’ and ‘source’, and society has to respect the constitution and the Basic Law to ensure the steady and long-lasting practice of one country, two systems,” said Yeung.

Kevin Yeung. File photo: GovHK.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam, in her policy address last month, vowed to bolster national security education, saying last year’s social unrest showed a lack of “law-abiding awareness” in some young people.

“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,” she said.

Apart from national security education, the education bureau plans to change the Liberal Studies curriculum, to halve the teaching hours devoted to it and include a study trip to mainland China.

Lam and other pro-Beijing politicians say aspects of the education system helped fuel last year’s pro-democracy mass protests. Lam claimed in May that some people were feeding schoolchildren “false and biased information” and said it was important to protect students from being “poisoned.”

Candice Chau

Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.