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HK govt drops plans to mandate pro-Beijing indoctrination classes: The Church of England Newspaper, September 16, 2012 p 6. September 16, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Education, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.
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The Hong Kong government has abandoned plans to implement the “Chinese Model National Conditions Teaching Manual” for the territory’s schools – giving pro-democracy activists a political boost the day before elections for the territorial legislature. Hong Kong’s state-supported church schools and refused to use the curriculum, which critics charged sought to whitewash the crimes of the Communist regime.

Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s decision came days before elections on 9 September 2012 for seats in the territory’s legislative assembly and followed weeks of protests, hunger strikes, and rallies by parents, teachers and student groups. A survey released last week estimated 69 per cent of students opposed the classes.

Hong Kong’s Anglican, Evangelical Lutheran and Roman Catholic parochial schools vowed not to use the “patriotic education” programme, which they say was adopted by the government of the outgoing pro-Beijing Chief executive Donald Tsang without public consultation or review by the legislative council.

The manual was prepared by a teacher’s alliance run by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong political party with the closest ties to the mainland’s communist government. The Tsang administration gave HK$13 million to the Centre to produce the booklet.

The 32-page booklet extols the virtues of the mainland government and one-party state. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is described as “progressive, selfless and united” in contrast to the two-party American and multi-party European political systems. While brief references are made to recent mainland political and economic scandals there is no mention of the Cultural Revolution, the 1989 Tiananmen massacre or state-induced famines of the Maoist era.

In July the new chief executive Leung Chun-ying said private Schools would not be required to use the curriculum. The state-aided Anglican, Lutheran and Catholic parochial schools – which comprise a third of the territory’s schools — had declined to use the materials, while Taoist and Muslims schools will join secular state schools in using the materials. Schools were offered $530,000 grants for implementation of the curriculum, which will become mandatory for primary schools in 2015 and for secondary schools four years later.

Last Saturday Mr. Leung Chun-ying said the classes would now be optional for schools. “The schools are given the authority to decide when and how they would like to introduce the moral and national education,” he said.

The last minute concession by Mr. Leung does not appear to have helped his pro-Beijing government. Early returns from Sunday’s voting indicate pro-democracy opposition parties will have increased their representation in the legislature.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.