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

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora