Hong Kong returned to China in 1997. Hongkongers were glad to be rid of colonial rule. However, some people are afraid of "brainwashing" from the mainland and losing their Western-style democracy and freedom.
It is not wrong to preserve democracy and freedom. But teaching adolescents about history, geography and culture is also important for all countries. These two tasks don't conflict.
The key point is the content of the national education instead of the form. Currently, some people equate national education with ideological indoctrination. This is open to misunderstanding.
Hongkongers have long ignored that the democracy which they thought they have always had was under British colonial rule. Hong Kong's autonomy and self-administration could not be fulfilled under the governance of British colonial officials.
Since Hong Kong's return to China, some Hongkongers have lacked a clearly defined identity. They enjoy the economic opportunities brought by rapid development of Chinese mainland, but they are also afraid of all kinds of influence from the mainland. Therefore, democracy and freedom have become sensitive points.
It has been 15 years since Hong Kong's return to China. Hong Kong people should face reality and view their identities rationally. They needn't feel discomfort caused by their distance from the Western world, nor fear being "brainwashed" by the Chinese mainland.
If Hong Kong people can rationally view the connections between the mainland and Hong Kong, they will not react to national education so strongly.
Don't be too quick to reject the form of national education. More attention should be paid to the specific content of that.
We can give full scope to democratic participation and democratic supervision. We can use the national education programs produced by indigenous Hong Kong teachers or non-governmental groups and which are compatible with the ideas of Hong Kong residents to educate the youth. We needn't look at the national education program as such a serious or bad thing.
The author is a professor at Hong Kong Baptist University. firstname.lastname@example.org
News we recommend