On Moral and National Education (MNE) in Hong Kong

To my friends who want to know why I’m posting (spamming?) a lot of messages on facebook these days, here’s an article by NY times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/09/world/asia/amid-protest-hong-kong-backs-down-on-moral-education-plan.html

News coverage of the hunger strike all over the world can be found in this google map (pins in cyan; pink and yellow for protests again the patriotism class on 1st July and 29th July, resp.): http://plasticnews.wf/2012/09/hunger-strike-coverage/

When we say this is going to brainwash our students, the government says it won’t. After some thoughts, it probably won’t brainwash them. But does that mean it’s okay? No. If government says it won’t, the hidden message could be what it’s teaching is not true, as witnessed in the teaching materials.* Why would we teach something that’s not true to our kids?

Now the government backed down and revoked the 2015 deadline for every school to start teaching the subject. This looks like a small victory for HK people, but I hope that they will not be fooled. Think about it. Till now only a few school stood up and say they are not going to implement it. What about others, especially those pro-Beijing or pro-government schools? How many of our kids will study in those schools?

The back down, which appeared a day before the legislative elections (on Sunday, 9 Sep 2012) is thought by many a way to mitigate the public animosity toward the education plan could hurt pro-Beijing candidates at the polls. Parents concern group recorded the LegCo candidates’ stance on Moral and National Education curriculum. From the list you can see not many say firmly that they support the curriculum. It’s understandable why that is the case. That would mean losing votes. More of the pro-government candidates are vague on their stance. The group also organized a map of the stance of different schools in Hong Kong, for parents’ and alumni’s information. Another student organization Scholarism also ask people to protest against the curriculum, the leader of which is only a 15-year-old high school student.

Arguments I have heard over these weeks also include: if we are teaching something that’s not true to our kids (and government say they are not brainwashed), what would happen is that we teach them how to live with lies, that you would write something in your exam that you do not believe. They will learn to cope with lies, and this is something that will seriously hinders the advancement of our country and our people.

There are also report saying the school management system (a computer system for managing info) has list for students who did not attend the MNE mainland learning trip (which, according to those who attended, covers achievements in mainland like the high speed trains and none of the things on the dark side like the accidents caused by the signal system). How can one say there’s no hidden agenda here?

Another thing I find it crazy is to ask students to assess their peers about their affection towards the country. You can assess me on whether I did the math correctly or not, but affection towards the country? No way. The curriculum guideline suggests that students should feel agitated when they see the national flag. What? One doesn’t need to be taught to love one’s country, right? This is to ask student to fake their feelings.

Oh, one incident that made many HK people furious is the words from our secretary for education Mr. Eddie Ng Hak-kim, who said “the majority of those who remained silent is supportive of the curriculum."  in a TV interview. What a distorted logic! We can’t remain silent any more.

What people attended the protest and hunger strike wanted is government to retract the subject, for we already have moral education, as well as Chinese history (which the education bureau made it a non-core class at the beginning of the millennium** and now not many study and I think it’s a pity). I hope people in HK will not be fooled.

There are more arguments than what I listed here (I’m sure I missed a lot more) and honestly I feel tired of having to read all those news about this MNE every day. This remotely reminds me a comment someone pointed out regarding the June 4th massacre in 1989: “I don’t want my kids to go to the candlelight vigils every year. Rather, I want the government to recognize what happened in 1989 was wrong and make it a holiday for memorial, and my kids can do whatever they want on that day instead of hanging on to it for years to come." I just hope there be fewer incidents like this that we Hong Kong people can focus on what we want to do (obviously going out there on the streets protesting in this hot weather is not fun).

* examples of which can be seen in one of the teaching handbooks, where it says (pardon my translation) “Content (essence?) of the Beijing Consensus – 4. Advanced, selfless and united ruling party" (original, as appeared in the handbook, p.10): “中國模式的內涵 – 四。進步,無私與團結的執政集團"). That’s a blatant lie. At the bottom of the same page, a panel titled “political parties fight against each other and the people suffer" (政黨惡鬥,人民受災) is referring to the US, where democrats and republicans rivaled against each other to be the ruling party, and as a means to canvassing reject the budget proposed by the other party which leads to closure of government and directly affecting daily lives of people. But the problem is, showing the “advantage" of the democratic centralism by giving this example is partial and biased. On the whole the handbook covered mostly the bright side of things, and the dark side like the internet censoring, harmful powdered milk and the crash between two high speed trains are left as an extended reading. (More controversial incidents like the Tiananmen massacre is not even mentioned.)

The handbook I was talking about can be obtained from (sorry, Chinese only): http://nesc.org.hk/main/newsinfo_219.html or
http://accsweb.hkbu.edu.hk/index.php?contentpage=presentation_page.php&presentation_pageid=4

Even this handbook is to be ditched and not used in schools, the millions of taxpayer’s money has already been spent and the (allegedly pro-Beijing) organization who prepared this handbook has benefited from it.

** This is probably why our chief executive say this MNE is the result of 10 years of preparation (國教科是經過十年的蘊釀才推出的).

P.S. This is probably the lengthiest blog I’ve written in English so far. It’s pretty disorganized, I know.

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