DSE exam raises concern over political censorship

April 02, 2015 13:47
This year's DSE examination is raising questions about political censorship after liberal studies were excluded as a compulsory topic.  Inset photo shows a liberal studies mock paper. Photos: Ta Kung Pao, RTHK

Hong Kong liberal studies were not a compulsory topic in the recent diploma of secondary education (DSE) examination for the first time since the test began in 2012.

The test included an optional question on politics in which candidates were asked to discuss the relationship between press freedom and governance, Apple Daily reported Thursday.

In the past, students were given three compulsory questions and an optional question.

This year's test could raise suspicion that the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) caved to pressure from pro-establishment forces to censor politics, according to some teachers.

Previous examinations offered compulsory liberal studies questions such as those relating to political parties, legislative filibusters and mass protests against the government.

Recently, however, the pro-establishment camp has complained that the examination has become politicized.

The HKEAA said this year's test questions were designed to fulfil the requirements of the school syllabus and assess the candidates' mental ability.   

Liberal studies teacher Cheung Yui-fai said the questions made people worry that the HKEAA was trying to avoid political topics altogether.

However, there is no evidence the HKEAA had practised self-censorship, he said.

Colin Lai, chairman of the Hong Kong Liberal Studies Teachers' Association, said it's too soon to say whether such an incident took place.

Lai said students should prepare for politics-related questions next time, adding there is no indication the HKEAA will not include them in future exams.

Pro-establishment lawmaker Priscilla Leung called the test questions “not ideal”, saying the topics, which ranged from agricultural issues in the mainland and teenage plastic surgery in Hong Kong to mainland tourist behavior, were remote to the candidates’ experience.

Leung called for such questions to be made optional.

DSE qualification is a prerequisite for admission to college or university.

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