Hong Kong offers comprehensive national security rules for schools

For years, parents and students in the semi-autonomous city have feared a shift toward “patriotic education” modeled on China, with an earlier attempt to introduce such a curriculum that was defeated by mass protests in 2012. The new rules, which come on the heels of both the New Security Law and the crackdown on the movement The opposition in the city goes beyond what was previously proposed.

“Schools have an important role to play,” he added.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Ip Kin-yun, a former lawmaker and vice president of the Professional Teachers’ Union, criticized the government for announcing the new policies without consulting teachers and parents.

“There is a great deal of sensitivity and unpredictability when it comes to teaching National Security Law,” he said. “This will lead to tremendous pressure and anxiety among principals and teachers.”

New laws

The new policies were identified in a series of circulars seen by CNN, as well New educational materials, Including videos, comic books and drawings, as Chinese cartoonists and local police officers help students understand their “responsibilities” under the Security Act.

They go into minute details about how national security issues are taught across a range of topics, from general studies and history to biology and music, as well as how officials and teachers deal with issues of discipline and disrespect the new guidelines.

Both teachers and students who break the rules face potential criticism, with administrators advising to involve the police in the event of “serious” crimes, while books and other materials deemed offensive to national security should be removed from school grounds, although few precise guidelines are provided on what materials Is being taken up.

The rules state that “if an employee is found to have committed any act of disrespect for the country, the school should provide appropriate advice or warning, and take care of that employee’s future performance accordingly”

Students, in both universities and high schools, were at the forefront of the anti-government protests and demands for democracy that shook Hong Kong for most of 2019. During the unrest and in the run-up to the introduction of the National Security Act, many supporters and government figures blamed the city’s liberal education curriculum. And also the teachers, in radicalizing the youth in the city.

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“We lost two generations, we lost them in schools,” senior advisor to Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam told CNN at the height of the unrest.

“The main problem is that you have an entire generation of young people who died against China, but really hate it,” the aide said, on the condition of anonymity. “How would you have a” one country, two systems “business if you had an entire generation that hates that country?

While members of the city’s democratic opposition rejected the allegations, noting that many of them had not received the supposedly radical lessons introduced only in 2009, this has not stopped the push to “reform” Hong Kong’s education system.

In which Annual Policy Title Last November, Lam, the Beijing-appointed city leader, said the 2019 protests “had led many to again question the effectiveness of education in Hong Kong.”

“We cannot bear to see that as politics infiltrates school campuses, students are attracted to political unrest or even be misled into engaging in illegal and violent acts, for which they have to assume legal responsibilities that would affect their lives,” Lamm, adding that “responsibility It is common for government, society, the education sector and parents to find a way to protect our students. ”

Political controls

Under the new guidelines, the inculcation of national security principles will begin early.

Kindergartens – private and public – are expected to instill in their students a greater knowledge of “Chinese history, Chinese culture and moral education,” which the guidelines say will “gradually build the identity of students as Chinese, thus laying the foundation for national security education.”

Starting at the age of six, all students in Hong Kong will receive new lessons aimed at helping them “understand the country’s history and development, the importance of national security, the national flag, the national emblem and the national anthem”.

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Elementary school students will be guided in singing the national anthem and raising the flag, while older children will discuss the rationale behind the law itself, and the importance of institutions such as the People’s Liberation Army.

And international schools – popular with both foreign residents and wealthier locals – are not exempt from the new guidelines.

While private educational institutions are not directly under the control of the Economic Development Board, rules issued on Thursday state that international and private schools “have a responsibility to assist their students (regardless of race and nationality) to gain a correct and objective understanding … the concept of national security and security law.” National, as well as the duty to develop a spirit of law-abiding among their students. “

The education system in Hong Kong is already known for its student density, while international schools in the city charge high fees and are difficult to accept, meaning the new rules may be the last straw for some parents. Who were already considering moving abroad.
The UK this week launched its resettlement program for British (overseas) passport holders, which number an estimated 3 million in Hong Kong. The Chinese government reacted angrily to the plan and said it would no longer recognize the BN (O) documents, but it was still expected to do so. Moving to the UK.

Others move to Canada and Australia, where many Hong Kong residents hold dual residency, while many prominent activists and politicians have sought asylum in the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States.

“(The exodus) is already happening, especially for families with young children,” opposition lawmaker Lester Shum said last year. “If I put myself in their shoes, I can understand the fear and anxiety they have about the next generation. Children cannot have bright prospects or a bright future in Hong Kong, and in order to protect that … it is understandable why people want to leave.”

Concerns for teachers

For school staff, administrators and teachers, the new rules open up a disturbing possibility for students to be informed of charges of violating national security, which could lead to them losing their jobs or, in extreme cases, arresting them.

Last year, the former city leader, C.Y. Leung, Launch a campaign To name and shame the teachers who he said participated in the 2019 protests, he posted their personal data on his Facebook page and called for their expulsion.
In mainland China, such reports are from teachers who go against the party line It is relatively routine, On both high school and university campuses, and regular campaigns are conducted to ensure the purity of teachers’ ideology, while Student Information Officers are conducted Collect files On teachers who are considered unpatriotic enough.

While for many older Chinese these practices have disturbing echoes of the Cultural Revolution, with teenage Red Guards frequently mistreating and killing teachers, these campaigns have escalated under Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The Chinese government released on Thursday New tips In order to “promote the work of the Chinese Young Pioneers” (CYP), a youth wing of the Communist Party “functions as a school for children to learn about socialism with Chinese characteristics and communism”.

“The guideline stressed adhering to the Party’s leadership of the work of CYP, and following the basic mission of nurturing capable youth who are well-prepared to join the Communist cause,” Xinhua reported.

The young pioneers functioned similarly to the Scouts, but with a distinctly political bent, wearing a uniform red scarf tied around their necks. for every New tipsThey will be encouraged to engage more with schools and youth groups in Hong Kong and Macao, in order to promote the “national, ethnic and cultural identity” of youth in these areas.

CNN’s Eric Cheung contributed to this report.

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