Hong Kong schools will have to instil the qualities of law-abidingness, empathy, diligence and love of country in their pupils under a new curriculum framework released by education authorities.

Classroom school national education china flag
File Photo: GovHK.

The latest “value education curriculum framework” released by the Education Bureau on Tuesday will replace a 2008 version of the moral and civic education curriculum framework. Requirements to educate senior secondary students on “respect for human rights” and “learning about the motherland with critical thinking” were removed.

Laid out in 89 pages in Chinese, the new framework was designed by the Curriculum Development Council’s values education standing committee, formed in December to revamp such education in all government-funded primary and secondary schools.

The country’s welfare

“Values influence how everyone views and treats different things, and is a set of standards and principles behind which people judge right from wrong, their decisions, behaviour and attitudes,” the document reads. “When we have to decide ‘should we do this?’ and ‘Is it right to do this?’ [we] shouldn’t only consider our personal position and viewpoints, but also make our judgements and decisions based on the country’s welfare and common values held by society.”

2021 Values Education Curriculum Framework.
2021 Values Education Curriculum Framework. Photo: screenshot of document cover.

Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung announced the release of the framework in a blog post on Sunday, in which he condemned what he called a worrying trend of young people being led astray by false information online. He also expressed concern over the recent “lying flat” trend, a rejection of a culture of pressure and hard work that is increasingly popular in mainland China.

“This passive attitude will make one wane in spirits and undermine society’s development in the long term,” he wrote.

The new guidance added law-abidingness, empathy as well as diligence to its original seven values and attitudes to instil in students as a priority, which also include compassion, integrity, and respect for others.

schools national security education day (4)
Education chief Kevin Yeung at SKH St James’ Primary School on National Security Education Day. Photo: GovHK.

The guidance will also reinforce students’ sense of identity with their country, “to understand that as a Chinese person, [they] have a responsibility to defend their country and their home.”

Learning goals for students between form four to six [ages 15 to 17] will require them to be taught the importance of the spirit of the rule of law, to exercise their civil rights guaranteed by the Basic Law and to fulfil their responsibilities as citizens, with the “public interest at the centre.” They should also respect rules, “avoid illegal behaviour and maintain social stability.”

Although “critical thinking” was removed from the learning goals on values education related to “the nation and society”, students are expected to learn about their country and community “rationally and with multiple perspectives,” “agree with their national identity, be willing to bear the responsibility to improve the country and its people’s welfare, to love the country and love Hong Kong.”

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Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.