Date
19 July 2018
All junior high schools should spend 51 hours teaching the mini constitution over three years, according to the Education Bureau. Photo: HKEJ, CNSA
All junior high schools should spend 51 hours teaching the mini constitution over three years, according to the Education Bureau. Photo: HKEJ, CNSA

Education Bureau criticized for new Basic Law requirement

Education authorities are under fire for demanding that secondary schools spend more time teaching the Basic Law.

The Education Bureau told a briefing Monday that it has decided to revise the secondary curriculum and that all junior high schools should spend 51 hours teaching the mini constitution over three years, Apple Daily reports.

There should be 24 hours allocated to Chinese history, 15 hours to life and society, 10 hours to history and two hours to geography, it said.

The bureau did not say what form schools can use to teach the Basic Law, along with their existing curriculum.

It said doing so can help enhance students’ thinking skills and cultivate positive values and attitude toward rule of law, justice, national identity, democracy, freedom and human rights, according to Ming Pao Daily.

Critics said the new requirement was like a surprise attack because the bureau did not mention it during a public consultation on the revision of the history curriculum last year.

Calling the decision sneaky, student activist Joshua Wong, who is also secretary general of Demosistō, said the bureau’s move raised concerns that teaching the Basic Law is some kind of political task aimed at clamping on students’ thinking.

Lai Tak-chung, a history teacher who also chairs the Hong Kong Liberal Studies Teachers’ Association, said the requirement is not easy to implement because teaching hours for the history curriculum are not enough.

He criticized the bureau for being too hasty and for failing to provide a detailed framework regarding how schools should teach the Basic Law.

In response, the bureau said promoting the Basic Law among students is one of its mandates, adding teachers can mix content from the Basic Law with the current curriculum without any need to teach them separately.

Fong Yiu-fai, a member of the commission responsible for the review of the secondary school history curriculum, said he never heard about the new requirement during the commission’s meetings.

He said the bureau should explain.

Also, he said spending 24 hours on the Basic Law in Chinese history class is not feasible.

Ip Kin-yuen, a lawmaker from the education constituency, said it will be difficult for schools to squeeze time to teach the Basic Law under the current packed schedule.

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TL/AC/RA

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