Parents Concern Group on National Education Launches “One Person, One Letter Campaign”

With less than a month to go till the beginning of the new school year, Beijing’s propaganda machine has cranked up its gears. Commentaries in the Global Times and People’s Daily write of the need to implement National Education in Hong Kong without delay. The anger of parents, teachers and students has not subsided. The Parents Concern Group on National Education (PCGNE) is today launching a second wave of actions to oppose the National Education Curriculum, involving allHong Kongresidents.

We call on Hong Kongers to join our “One Person, One Letter” campaign and provide information for a “National Education  Map”. Within the month, we hope to show how Hong Kong’s schools are being “dyed red” from facts on the ground, so parents can choose schools for their children with eyes wide open.

PCGNE co-founder Eva Chan Sik-chee said, “many government policies are destroying our education system but the National Education Curriculum is the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

After the rally on July 29, the group has received information about the implementation of national education in different schools. We have heard about how schools are being given the carrot and stick treatment to promote national education activities, such as exchange trips to the mainland. One teacher told us she felt helpless and hopeless (see appendix).

Time to act 

The PCGNE is launching the “One Person, One Letter” campaign via the internet (including our newly launched website) and through road-side stalls across the territory. We call on all Hong Kong parents to write to their children’s current and prospective schools and ask what their plans are for implementing National Education; to urge schools to seriously reconsider before implementing them  and to cease all national education activities that impact on children’s freedom of thought. We also call on schools to reflect parents’ concerns to the government.

Eva Chan adds, “strictly speaking, it’s “One Person, Many Letters”. We hope that apart from writing to their children’s schools,Hong Kong citizens call also write  to their  primary and secondary schools as alumni and students, so they can clearly hear the voice of opposition to national education. As long as we all play our role and keep close watch, schools will not dare act rashly and the government will realize that forced implementation of national education  will not succeed.”

The PCGNE stresses it is not opposed to our children  knowing more about China but we believe this knowledge should extend beyond a narrow sense of nationalism. It should be more in line with the rest of the world in covering “civic education” content, promoting universal values such as justice, peace, diversity, tolerance, human rights and democracy.

We will compile the information from the letter campaign to make an online map of schools’ positions on implementing the National Education Curriculum which will be unveiled within the month. This will help parents choose schools for their kids and letHong Kongresidents see clearly which schools are working to uphold student’s freedom of thought.

We urge citizens to provide information for the “National Education  Map” campaign. Parents, teachers and even students who discover any brainwashing education activities should report them to us, so we can monitor them together. They can do this through our website or by email.

The group’s website is now live. Visit http://parentsconcern.hk to learn more about the National Education  issue.

Save our children!

The PCGNE is aware that the government is giving each primary and secondary school HK$530,000 to fund the implementation of the Moral and National Education Curriculum. They are using handouts to carry out a fait-accompli. Government schools are first in line to introduce the subject.

We call on the government to step back from the precipice, stop going against the will of the people and avoiding society’s demands. Mums and Dads of Hong Kong are not going to give up on their own children, they are not going to retreat in their opposition to national education. The PCGNE reiterates:

  • Withdraw the Moral and National Education Curriculum  Guidelines. Stop all trial schemes for the subject and start comprehensive and open consultations involving parents, frontline teachers and students
  • Oppose all forms of brainwashing national education activities
  • Review policies and subjects related to Civic Education. Strengthen human rights education and universal values teaching. Develop a civic education curriculum that does not involve political indoctrination and encourages students’ critical thinking and care for society.

One Secondary School Teacher’s Letter to PCGNE and Telephone Conversation (summary)

On the rally of July 29, I saw many residents around me ignoring hardship to show their care for the next generation. But as a teacher, I felt ashamed that Hong Kong people are being betrayed by Hong Kong’s education workers. I felt I was complicit in lying to the parents and this pains me deeply.

Parents, only pressure from you will force the schools to explain the truth – to stop hanging a sheep’s head and selling dog meat.

I am a teacher in a Christian secondary school. I feel helpless. My school is relatively open, every year we discuss June 4 seriously with our students. But in the face of  national education, our teachers and school principal have no choice.

Parents, please don’t think that because school organizations have promised to not introduce independent national education classes at primary one level in September, that means they have not yet launched the national education subject mandated by the Education Bureau (or as senior officials put it: schools have the choice of whether or not to introduce classes). In fact, various secondary and primary schools run by school organizations (such as the Catholic schools organizations) have been actively promoting in various ways for some time.

Actually when Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying says National Education is not new, that it has been implemented for many years, he is in fact right.

Our school followed the trend relatively early. Last year we took part in a national education camp under the “pass on the torch” series organized by the Education Bureau and also put marked two days in the school calendar as National Education Day. We followed the national education guidelines to inculcate patriotic values. These National Education Days totally wiped out students’ previous training to adopt objective ways of learning about Chinese history and culture.

Why does the school respond in such a positive way? The reason is simple: apart from pro-Beijing schools who are willing (to embrace national education), most schools annually face the threat of education reforms, school closures, external evaluations. Principals and teachers don’t have the strength to resist.

Our school used to hold exchange trips for Chinese history. We went toBeijing,Inner Mongolia. But the Education Bureau will no longer subsidize them. Students have to pay HK$6000 for these trips. So, unless the school governors can sponsor them, students must apply to the Community Care Fund. However, each individual can only apply once in a lifetime. As a result, the school took part in the camps organized by the National Education Centre instead, because these receive extensive funding.

Currently the government gives each school HK$530,000, it is most probable this will be used on these exchange trips. Schools will automatically get HK$530,000 but they can’t sit on the money. This is because they would not only have to return it but they would also have to submit a report to the government to explain why. What school would write in their report “we oppose national education”? What kind of an external evaluation would they receive if they did ? All these things, direct and indirect, mean that schools cannot but implement national education.

The Education Bureau is in fact closely watching every move we make, school based management, external evaluation, the so-called “autonomy” spoken of by education officials. Just think, if schools do not follow the herd in national education activities, their external evaluations will definitely be negative, they will be to be found below standard in both teaching and learning.

Today, we already have students who took part in an exchange trip toGuangzhou, standing on the stage to jump and concluding that they “feel proud of the country.” I am terrified. This kind of emotional conclusion distorts the spirit of teaching that advocates freedom of thought and academic freedom.

What is most worrying is that, six years from now, cohorts of primary school students who have received national education from a young age will be promoted to secondary school. They will have different thinking to our current students. There will be no room left for us to “teach” them. When you indoctrinate kids from a young age that “this is a good person, not a bad person”, it will be impossible to develop critical thinking, no matter how hard teachers try later on during secondary school. We are talking about a whole generation of students, not just one or two people.