How Hong Kong Education Bureau can do more to halt discussion of independence in schools



a man and a woman sitting at a table: Permanent Secretary for Education Michelle Li and Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung meet the press at the government headquarters in Admiralty on October 6. Photo: Dickson Lee


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Permanent Secretary for Education Michelle Li and Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung meet the press at the government headquarters in Admiralty on October 6. Photo: Dickson Lee

A primary schoolteacher has been deregistered for allegedly promoting discussion of Hong Kong independence and will be barred from working as a teacher in the city for the rest of his life. The case has sparked a great deal of public discussion on this subject in recent days.

As Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung pointed out, the Education Bureau advised as far back as 2016 that the topic was not fit for discussion on campus. The Basic Law clearly stipulates that Hong Kong is an inseparable part of China (“Teachers told to steer clear of Hong Kong independence discussions”, October 6).

Mr Yeung also said that if independence were to be addressed at all, it should be to point out that “it is infeasible for Hong Kong to be separated from China”. I think the topic should not even be brought into the classroom.

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The reason is clear – there is still the chance that some students might not agree, and the ensuing discussion might end up with arguments being made in favour of independence.

When I was a student in Hong Kong decades ago, my teachers never talked about committing radical political acts against our government; neither did I nor my colleagues – or at least not openly – when I was teaching at high schools or universities.

The arrest of many students taking part in the political movements of recent years has set off alarm bells in the educational system. To see students chanting slogans and carrying flags calling for Hong Kong independence has almost become a regular part of daily life in the city since June last year.

Principals and teachers should avoid taking a political stance, at least in class, and focus on conveying their knowledge of their subject. The Education Bureau must also make monitoring and scrutinising schools its primary responsibility. It should put “no brainwashing of pupils” at the top of its many objectives.

Randy Lee, Ma On Shan

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