Hong Kong needs stronger moral education for students, pro-establishment lawmakers said on Friday as the Education Bureau (EDB) announced a new plan for values education in schools.

The plan proposed by the EDB would train students to “show concern about society, the nation and the world with a sense of national identity, appreciate Chinese culture and develop a sense of responsibility and commitment to society and the nation.”

flag raising chinese china schools national security education day (2)
File photo: GovHK.

Legislative councillors said the 2019 anti-extradition bill protests showed that there was a problem with moral education in schools. They urged the EDB to provide moral education training to teachers and monitor their characters.

Pro-Beijing legislator Elizabeth Quat said that the large number of arrests, convictions, and sentencing of students in the protests was “heart-breaking,” and showed that pupils had a “weak concept of what it means to be law-abiding”

“We can also see that a lot of students seem to have a distorted perspective on values like freedom and justice,” said Quat.

The lawmaker also suggested that the EDB should make it compulsory for junior secondary school students to join uniformed groups to nurture their sense of civic responsibility.

‘Polluting youngsters’

Another pro-establishment lawmaker Priscilla Leung slammed the since-overhauled Liberal Studies subject for “polluting youngsters,” and said that some of these “polluted” young people would grow up to be coaches and teachers.

Priscilla Leung
Pro-Beijing lawmaker Priscilla Leung in a Panel on Education meeting at the Legislative Council on September 3, 2021. Photo: LegCo.

“The fissures in Hong Kong society come from the distortion of values,” said Leung. “…if you don’t fix moral education, no matter what geniuses you can train, if they don’t have any ethics, or their country in their hearts, or the heart to be filial towards their parents… it would be a big problem for you guys.”

“Without all these things, you will have trained a bunch of Frankenstein’s monsters.”

Leung went on to say that a lot of students from well-known schools were foul-mouthed, “it’s because you have teachers like this that you end up with students like this.”

According to documents submitted to the Legislative Council (LegCo), the EDB’s plan is designed to “cultivate a conducive school atmosphere.” The plan, ongoing since last year, includes such things as the organisation of “large-scale territory wide student activities on Chinese culture and national education.”

The EDB also planned to enhance “media and information literacy” by educating teachers and students on topics such as protecting personal privacy and “discerning the authenticity of information.”

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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.