Following the months-long anti-government protests, some critics have pointed fingers at the liberal studies subject in the Hong Kong secondary school curriculum for fostering anti-China ideas and discontent among the students.
If you ask me, I would say it is wrong to associate the effect of liberal studies education with the current chaos in the city.
Instead, I believe it is the government’s unviable youth policy that could be connected to what’s been going on in Hong Kong for the past three months.
Just consider this fact: in 2016/17, two members of the then Commission on Youth had their terms renewed despite their zero attendance at the commission’s meetings throughout the year.
It shows how little importance the government accorded to youth policy.
During the early days of the current administration, youth policy was, at one point, placed high in the government’s agenda, with the former Commission on Youth getting revamped into the new Youth Development Commission made up of non-official members as well as ex-officio members including the secretary for education and secretary for labour and welfare, and chaired by the chief secretary himself.
Yet the establishment of the Youth Development Commission didn’t fundamentally change the fact that the government’s youth policy still lacks coordination and focus on the whole.
It is because, like I already pointed out two years ago, while inter-departmental efforts on formulating youth policies may mean everybody is responsible for it, it may, at the same time, also mean that everybody can pass the buck to each other on this issue.
As such, I believe that if the administration has to stay more focused and coordinated on youth issues, there is a need to establish a single youth development bureau charged with formulating youth policies as well as carrying out the initiatives.
To allow our society to move on, an urgent task lying before the government right now is to make a concerted effort to facilitate youth policies by accommodating different views across the political spectrum and engaging civilian organizations in the community.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 14
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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