28 October 2016
A new package of Basic Law teaching materials for secondary schools has drawn the ire of independent observers in Hong Kong. Photos: HK Government, CNSA
A new package of Basic Law teaching materials for secondary schools has drawn the ire of independent observers in Hong Kong. Photos: HK Government, CNSA

Govt under fire over new Basic Law teaching resource package

The Hong Kong government has come under fire over a new teaching resource package on Basic Law that has been outlined for secondary schools in the city.

Critics say the new package appears to have been inspired by the White Paper released by Beijing last year on Hong Kong, which saw the central government assert its “complete jurisdiction” over the territory. 

Kevin Yam, convenor of the Progressive Lawyers Group, is among those who are saying that the new school teaching materials and the White Paper have close resemblance, Apple Daily reported.

The special administrative region status enjoyed by Hong Kong has been intentionally downplayed in the course materials, as was China’s responsibility to implement the Sino-British Joint Declaration, Yam said.

The Education Bureau unveiled on Wednesday a Basic Law video teaching resource package for secondary schools, focusing on two themes — constitutional status of the Basic Law and the concept of “One Country, Two Systems”.

Included in the package were an audio-visual component, teaching suggestions, suggested lesson length, outlines for discussion, suggestions for extended reading and project learning as well as proposed assessment resources, according to an official statement.

The new teaching materials claimed that the central government never interfered with the internal affairs of Hong Kong, while suggesting that Hong Kong is a municipality directly under the central government.

The interpretation of Basic Law is also portrayed as the central government’s attempts to help Hong Kong resolve its problems.

Yam also denounced the new teaching package over its alleged failure to emphasize that the chief executive of Hong Kong should be elected through universal suffrage under a democratic process, and instead saying that the leader is to be appointed by the central government.

Fong King-lok, a member of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, said the notion of combining the legislative, executive and judicial powers, as suggested in the new materials, marks a blatant distortion of the constitution and the systems that are functioning well in Hong Kong at the moment.

Fong said he feels terrible that teachers would be asked to teach Basic Law in a distorted way.

The new teaching package has also left out discussions on civic disobedience, a topic that the previous editions have touched on, critics say.

Secretary for Education Eddie Ng said the new teaching materials are not designed to replace the old ones, but instead to complement the previous versions.

Legislator Yip Kin-yuen, who represents the education sector, said Ng was offering weak excuses.

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