A center dedicated to the promotion of national education appears to have a sprung up in Hong Kong, with students from up to 20 schools said to be participating in its activities.
Lui Yu-yi, office-in-charge of the Hong Kong National Education Centre (HKNEC), said the new initiative, in partnership with the Joint Committee for the Promotion of The Basic Law of Hong Kong, provides national education courses for local secondary and primary schools by organizing day camps, seminars and exchange tours to the mainland, Apple Daily reported.
The new center, which calls itself “Quality Education Development Centre”, claims that as many as 20 schools have participated in its monthly offerings, which aim to let children develop love for and build their motherland into a better place.
Among other things, the center will teach children table manners, including using chopsticks the right way.
The Education Bureau had earlier been forced to suspend plans for launching national education as a school subject and subsequently withdraw funding to HKNEC after protests by student groups two years ago.
The campus used by HKNEC, originally a primary school in Tai Po, was taken back by the government and was put up for tender.
It was only in April this year that Lui started another project from a location in Sheung Wan, in a rather low-profile manner, the report said. He sent out invitations to principals of local schools saying that his center can help organize day camps, seminars at schools and other educational tours.
At day camps, students will attend guided tours of exhibition panels with information on mainland China and a national flag raising ceremony. Each tour can take up some 160 students at HK$95 (US$12.25) per head. Exchange tours cover visits to Chung Ying Street, which straddles the border between Hong Kong and mainland China, as well as other locations in Macau and Dongguan.
Apple Daily reporters found that the registered address of the new center is at a bicycle products shop. Staff members said they only borrowed the place for use as a correspondence address.
A reporter called up the center without revealing his identity and was told by a staff member that they are a self-sustaining not-for-profit organization. The center was affiliated with HKNEC and up to two dozen schools were enrolling for their courses every month, the person said.
The next day, having learned that it was a reporter calling, the staff said they had nothing to do with HKNEC and that it was not funded by the Education Bureau.
Joshua Wong, founder of the student group Scholarism, urged schools to exercise caution when enrolling their students in national education courses. Schools should watch out for institutions and courses that aim to brainwash children’s minds, he said.
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