Over 90 per cent of Hong Kong’s local schools have signed up for on-site workshops run by the Education Bureau (EDB) to help them better implement national security education, Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung told the Legislative Council on Wednesday.
The workshops, announced in mid-August, are part of the city’s push to “proactively implement” the new curriculum in a “holistic manner” during the upcoming school year.
“We are glad to see the enthusiastic response and strong support for [national security education] from the school sector,” Yeung said.
The workshops are designed to help foster a stronger sense of national identity mandated under the Beijing-imposed security law. The EDB has already issued new curriculum guidelines for 15 different subjects for years groups Primary One to Secondary Six.
All schools are required to begin implementing national security education in the school year commencing this month, with all schools expected to have fully-implemented a national security curriculum by the following year.
The new curriculum for all local schools will also include a calendar of important national dates, including China’s National and Constitution Day, to encourage relevant “learning activities, such as raising the national flag and the regional flag as well as playing and singing the national anthem.”
“This will help develop students into good citizens who have a sense of national identity, show respect for the rule of law and abide by the law, hence safeguarding national security,” the secretary said.
As part of the government-led revamp, the secretary said the bureau will continue to foster a greater understanding of national developments on mainland China among the city’s teachers, and in training programmes for educators hoping to be promoted.
The arrangements will include professional training trips for even kindergarten teachers to mainland cities. “The aim is to enhance their professional knowledge, broaden their horizons and enable them to better understand the latest developments in the mainland through direct personal observations and experiences,” the secretary said.
Trips for the upcoming academic year have been delayed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Oath-taking arrangements for schoolteachers will also be announced “in due course,” Yeung said.
His comments were made in response to questions from pro-Beijing lawmakers Lo Wai-kwok and Tony Tse, who said some members of the public believed that a faction of the city’s teachers had “a weak sense of national identity” and “failed to assist students in developing a sense of belonging to the country, an affection for the Chinese people and a sense of national identity.”
It comes after the bureau cut ties with the city’s largest teachers’ union last month, which led it to disband citing an inability to see a way forward in the political climate.
The union’s leaders had accused the government of “scapegoating” the education sector for the 2019 pro-democracy protests and unrest, which the government has largely blamed on student-aged protesters.