News / Asia

Hong Kong Protest Targets Propaganda in Schools

Marches in Hong Kong on Sunday, July 29, 2012 protest Beijing-approved "national education" plans.Marches in Hong Kong on Sunday, July 29, 2012 protest Beijing-approved "national education" plans.
x
Marches in Hong Kong on Sunday, July 29, 2012 protest Beijing-approved "national education" plans.
Marches in Hong Kong on Sunday, July 29, 2012 protest Beijing-approved "national education" plans.
Terry Wing
Hong Kong’s chief executive says the government will move ahead with its plan to implement a “national education” school curriculum, despite protests calling the Beijing-encouraged policy “brainwashing.”

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has offered more consultations with parents after as many as 90,000 people protested against the plans on Sunday. But he has ruled out any delays in rolling out the policy, which requires all primary and secondary schools to teach mandatory civic education classes by 2016. 

Leung’s message is that  the central government would like to strengthen Hong Kong’s sense of identification with China through this project. 

Suspicions over government motives

Despite government assurances, many teachers and parents are concerned the curriculum would force the schools to teach Chinese communist propaganda.

“Behind these protests, there is deep suspicion about what the Hong Kong government and, in fact, the central government want to do,” said  Joseph Cheng of Hong Kong University.

Sunday’s protest is the latest sign of growing public discontent with Beijing's perceived interference in city affairs, 15 years after it reverted to China from British control.

“The people’s hearts have not returned,“ according to Cheng.  He cites a survey last week by the University of Hong Kong that found only 12% of respondents polled want the curriculum implemented on schedule, while 52% want it shelved and 30% have no opinion.

The government wants elementary schools to adopt the classes on a voluntary basis for a three-year trial period before making them compulsory in 2015.
 
Hong Kong’s deputy leader, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, responded to Sunday's protest by announcing the formation of a committee to monitor the implementation of the classes. 
 
Civics or propaganda?

Lam counters concerns about the curriculum as propaganda.  Instead, she says students would be educated to have independent thought, to be able to analyze situations and come to objective conclusions following the courses.

“I’m sure she really means what she says,” said Christine Loh,  chief executive officer of the Hong Kong-based research group, Civic Exchange.

The debate, according to Loh, is more about who will write the curriculum.  She says some schools believe they can write their own curriculum, that they don’t need the government to do it. 

“A number of schools have spoken out to say they have strong values.  They feel they should be able to decide what curriculum they are going to teach,” said Loh.

The real issue is the matter of trust.  According to the University of Hong Kong’s Cheng, the protests are an expression about a growing concern with China’s influence in Hong Kong’s affairs.

“Hong Kong’s people are not happy with the blatent interference by the central authorities during the election of the chief executive in March of this year,” Cheng said.

He says that concern also extends to a perception that a pro-Beijing attitude is becoming more evident in Hong Kong’s media.

“There’s a perception that the central authorities are not happy with the radio and television of Hong Kong,” Cheng said.   “The result is that there has been increased self-censorship the media’s criticism of the government,” said Cheng.

Hong Kong's democratic tradition

Loh says the protest movement in Hong Kong has the potential to be sustained and that the government will have to deal with its effects.

“I think the issue of democracy has never really left Hong Kong.  People have always had the sense that they could choose their own government,” said Loh.

Trusting Hong Kong’s leaders, and as an extension, Beijing’s leaders on the matter of school curriculum goes to a bigger question. 

“I think everybody understands that because Hong Kong is a part of China, the direction and timetable for democratic reform is dependent on Beijing’s support,” said Loh.

Cheung doesn't expect such massive protests to become routine in Kong Kong.  He said legislative council elections are scheduled September 9, and voter discontent may be manifested in that election.

Victor Beattie contributed to this report. 

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid