The Occupy protests and civil disobedience in Hong Kong last year have sent a message to authorities that they need to step up efforts to educate the youth on national issues, a top mainland official said.
Qin Yizhi, who oversees the training of new party and government officials in China, told Ming Pao Daily that China’s education ministry has been in discussions with the Hong Kong government on the issue of promoting national education among Hong Kong youth.
More cross-border exchanges, supported by various departments in the mainland, are deemed essential to help young people in Hong Kong gain better understanding of the country, said Qin, who is the first secretary at the Secretariat of Communist Youth League of China Central Committee.
Somer students in Hong Kong have been misled by others, as can be seen from the events during the Occupy movement last year, said the official, who added that he plans to visit Hong Kong sometime this year.
Qin stressed that every Chinese should have good knowledge about their ancestors and national history. Hong Kong people have been lagging in this regard due to some peculiar conditions, and one must find a way to improve the situation, he said.
As for cross-border exchanges, Qin said the trips should be expanded so that Hong Kong youth will get to interact with not only their counterparts in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai but also in developing areas such as China’s western region and Yan’an in Shaanxi which the Communist Party sees as the birthplace of its revolution.
According to data from Hong Kong’s Education Bureau, 5,800 college students joined mainland exchange programs in the 2013/14 academic year. Apart from that, 29,800 students from high schools and 18,000 from elementary schools also participated in such programs.
Replying to a query from Ming Pao, the Education bureau said that it has been in close contact with its counterpart in Beijing and that it has been developing educational policies on its own under the ambit of the Basic Law.
Ip Kin-yuen, a lawmaker from the education constituency and chief executive of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, said it is absolutely improper for authorities in charge of education in Beijing and Hong Kong to jointly push for national education in the city.
Education should be an internal affair for Hong Kong, and Beijing should not interfere, Ip said. Any exchange trips to the mainland should be based only on the students’ free will to participate in the programs, he said.
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