OPINION-Chinese Nationalism and Curriculum Reform in Hong Kong

Judging by the recent content of curriculum reform in Hong Kong secondary schools, strengthening Chinese nationalism, national identity and national security have become the focus of education reform in the Region. Hong Kong Special Administration (HKSAR).

In mid-April, the Education Department of the Hong Kong SAR government released a detailed lesson plan on how to improve the ingredient of national security education in eleven subjects in schools. secondary.

On May 26, the Ministry of Education made more known how the rest of the four subjects – Chinese history, history, life and society and economy – can consolidate the content of Chinese nationalism, national identity and national security. .

First, in the field of Chinese history, curriculum reform in accordance with national security education is introduced at two levels: the junior and senior levels. In the first cycle of secondary school, the reformed pedagogy must achieve two objectives: (1) enable students to “comprehensively understand the main events and personalities” in different historical periods, including the need to “understand the importance of safety political and cultural and to elevate the national identity, mission and responsibility of students; And (2) enable students to “clearly understand how the nation overcame hardships in the midst of a foreign invasion, including the British occupation of Hong Kong and China’s diligent process to regain its sovereignty,” so that the sense of national identity, mission and responsibility of students can be strengthened.

At the graduate level, the subject of Chinese history is to “develop experiences of national independence and self-government, and help students build a full and complete sense of the nation” through compulsory subjects such as foreign invasion, anti-Japanese war, open door policy and foreign relations. In addition, students should “appreciate the value of traditional culture, understand the evolution of different systems, tolerate different religions” so that “the important foundation of maintaining national stability and development and the solidarity of minorities ethnicities can be posed ”.

These two levels of Chinese history subject will, according to the curriculum reform plan, be accompanied by student activities, such as appreciation of Chinese culture through an understanding of the lives of women in the Tang Dynasty, the Tang clothes and dress style of the people of the Tang Dynasty. Other study activities include an appreciation of anti-Japanese war songs, interviews with former guerrillas from Dongjiang in southern China, oral history interviews with former guerrillas, inspections anti-Japanese war sites in Hong Kong; and tours in Nanjing. and historical sites linked to the Opium War and the Nanjing Treaty.

Second, the history subject in lower secondary school should strengthen students’ sense of national consciousness and identity by not only emphasizing the historical fact that “Hong Kong since antiquity has been part of the land. Chinese, but also covering how the Chinese nation regained sovereignty over Hong Kong after the foreign invasion and British occupation of the territory. At the upper secondary level, the history subject should make students understand that the modernizing Chinese nation attaches great importance to political, cultural and national security. Students should be “responsible citizens” and “Chinese citizens with a global vision”.

Third, the topic of life and society in junior high school should cover the current development and direction of the Chinese nation, its constitution, and the constitutional basis between the Basic Law of Hong Kong and the Chinese constitution. In this way, students will understand the content of national security, political, economic, resources and military and the security of China’s foreign interests.

Fourth, the topic of economics at the higher level will cover the topics of money, banking, international trade and finance and students will need to understand the importance of economic security and people’s livelihoods. Students will also need to understand that Hong Kong coexists with the Chinese nation and that Hong Kong has a duty to maintain China’s economic security, while the nation contributes to maintaining Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.

Clearly, the reform of the four-subject curriculum is aimed at improving Hong Kong students’ sense of national identity, nationalist sentiment, and understanding of the historical ties between Hong Kong and the Chinese nation.

Pui Kiu High School history teacher Muk Ka-chuen responded to the Education Department’s efforts to strengthen national security education in Chinese history and history subjects in the As follows: “Modern Chinese history is like a story of humiliation, and it has a warning function in understanding China’s past history of foreign aggression and foreign race for concessions (Wen Wei Po, May 27, 2021, p. A6). He added that by infiltrating the element of national security education in various subjects, students’ national identity and national recognition can be enhanced.

Curriculum reform also requires teachers of various subjects to select officially recommended textbooks and references and local textbook writers to improve content that can help strengthen Chinese nationalism, national identity and national security.

More interestingly, more pro-Beijing organizations have organized activities to strengthen the national identity and consciousness of the people of Hong Kong. For example, Dot News hosted a forum on May 26 in which Hong Kong member of the National People’s Congress, Chan Yong, advocated for the Hong Kong government to take over and repair all historic sites in Hong Kong during the WWII, including the Sai Kung sites where renovation and reconstruction work is expected to be carried out. Additionally, these sites can be turned into local museums through the use of 5G technology to enhance the visitor experience. Northern District District Council member Wan Wo-tat suggested the government rebuild traffic facilities connecting urban areas with a statue commemorating local heroes who fought the Japanese army in Sha Tau Kok. During the 2019 anti-extradition movement, the Sha Tau Kok statue was damaged and disfigured, but the repair work was carried out by social groups. As such, Sai Kung Regional Committee Vice Chairman Lee Ka-leung criticized the Hong Kong government for shirking its responsibility to attach importance to history and make amends. the historic site (Ta Kung Pao, May 27, 2021, p. A6).

In addition to curriculum reform and organizational lobbying activities on the government to repair and renovate local historic sites, the Department of Education is reviewing guidelines for teachers to strengthen their professional ethics and conduct. On May 26, Kevin Yeung, the Hong Kong Government’s Education Secretary, responded to remarks by some members of the Legislative Council, who said the 1990 Hong Kong Education Profession Directive is obsolete. , and he revealed that his department was reviewing the possibility of revising the existing guidelines (Wen Wei Po, May 27, 2021, p. AT 12). Liberal Party member and lawmaker Tommy Cheung called on the government to review the directive by adding a new provision that teachers should be banned from participating in illegal activities, inducing and organizing students to join to such illegal activities, to make their political views known to students, and to show “radical” views via the Internet. Another lawmaker, Ronick Chan, suggested that the government issue an official directive to combine it with the 1990 Hong Kong education profession directive to make it easier for schools and teachers to follow the stipulations.

Yeung also disclosed that as of April 2021, the Ministry of Education had received 269 cases of complaints regarding the professional and ethical conduct of teachers. Three of the teachers had their teaching licenses revoked, while 151 others were reprimanded, formally warned, counseled or verbally persuaded. Clearly, as part of the curriculum reform process, the professional conduct of teachers has come under much greater scrutiny than ever before.

In conclusion, Hong Kong envisioned a three-pronged strategy in response to national security education as required by the National Security Law. The first strategy is to undertake curriculum reform for various subjects in secondary schools, including Chinese history and history subjects. The historical development of the anti-Japanese invasion during WWII is highlighted. These reforms were accompanied by new study activities, such as visits to historical sites and mobilizing students to taste the Tang Dynasty way of life, with the aim of strengthening Chinese nationalism, national security awareness. and the national identity of Hong Kong students. The second strategy is characterized by the activities of pro-Beijing organizations and politicians advocating the repair, renovation, recovery and rejuvenation of local historic sites. The third strategy is adopted by local lawmakers who lobby the government to revise existing guidelines or introduce official guidelines for teachers so that national security education is entrenched.

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