18 August 2019
A group of Hong Kong secondary school students prepare for a study trip in China. Photo: Xinhua
A group of Hong Kong secondary school students prepare for a study trip in China. Photo: Xinhua

Liberal Studies continues to stir debate

Liberal Studies, which is one of the core academic subjects in the new senior secondary curriculum in Hong Kong, continues to provoke debate in the education fraternity, with many arguing that it is a challenging subject for both teachers and students.

The modern China module of the liberal studies curriculum is the most difficult of all the six modules in teaching as it is hard for local students to understand the situation in the mainland, the Hong Kong Economic Journal quoted a person who teaches the subject in a school in Kwun Tong as saying.

The syllabus of the module is about the challenges China is facing after the nation’s economic reform and opening up. Students not only need to understand the background history, but also the achievements and various social and economic issues such as corruption, rural-urban imparity and problems related to agriculture, rural land, etc.

However, syllabus of the general studies in local primary schools put a lot of emphasis on the accomplishment of the country, without a note on social and economic damage caused by the Great Leap Forward projects and the Cultural Revolution during 1960s and 1970s, said the teacher, who gave her surname as Chow.

As conflicts between Hong Kong and the mainland heightened recently, students are increasingly interested in discussions about social issues.

Students would actively question in the class about topics such as gutter oil, jerry-built construction projects and arrests of dissidents, said Chow. But when it comes to discussions on economic achievements or technology advancement of China, students show less interest, the teacher said.

Jacob Hui Shing-yan, president of the Hong Kong Liberal Studies Teachers’ Association, said Liberal Studies is aimed at helping students develop critical thinking. He advised students to wear “mainland lens” to view the country when they study.

Meanwhile, content about mainland political system should be added in the syllabus, he said, adding that efforts should also be put in toward teacher training.

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