A subject taught in Hong Kong’s junior secondary schools will be revised to put more emphasis on national security and the need to develop a sense of national identity, officials say.

At the same time, democracy and the political systems of other countries will no longer be taught in the amended Citizenship, Economics and Society subject. The Education Bureau told HKFP that it had removed “content learnt in primary school or other subjects” to reduce redundancy.

Education Bureau
File photo: NowTV screenshot.

The bureau handed out the updated curriculum guide to secondary schools on Wednesday. The new subject is set to replace the existing Life and Society curriculum, which has been taught since 2010. Schools are encouraged to introduce the new curriculum in September 2023 and fully implement it for all Secondary One students from September 2024.

When compared with the existing curriculum, a learning objective is notably missing – “to understand, appreciate, respect and reflect on the values and attitudes that underpin the local society, including rights and responsibilities, freedom, rule of law, social justice, democracy.”

The entire module entitled “Upholding the Core Values of Our Society” will also be displaced. The module urges students to learn about the importance of freedom of opinion and expression by different parties, including the government and individuals.

Liberal studies book
Liberal Studies textbooks. File photo.

The new learning targets will also omit developing “enthusiasm and readiness for responsible participation in public affairs.” They will only require students to understand basic features of the political structure of China, while the existing version includes local and global political systems.

Learning objectives under the updated curriculum include understanding China’s constitution, the meaning of national security and the importance of the national security law, as well as developing a sense of national identity.

Under the new module about the governance of Hong Kong, students are expected to be able to “understand and put into practice the idea that national security is our shared responsibility and everyone has a role to play,” as well as to “willingly respect and uphold” China’s system.

In response to HKFP’s enquiries, the Education Bureau said all the “necessary content” in the curriculum had been preserved. It said the existing curriculum had been reorganised to make room for timely topics such as “media and information literacy” and “improving the electoral system.”

National security law
Photo: GovHK.

Content that students had already learnt in primary school or in other subjects was removed to reduce repetition, it said.

Revamped Liberal Studies

The existing Life and Society curriculum was introduced to better link up junior students’ knowledge with the now-revamped and renamed Liberal Studies subject in high school.

Citizenship and Social Development – the new high school society subject – has replaced Liberal Studies for some students since last September, after some pro-Beijing figures said the latter encouraged young people to take part in the 2019 protests.

New textbooks deny Hong Kong was ever a colony and link the anti-extradition protests and unrest to foreign intervention.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.