CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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No national education in Catholic schools

HONG KONG (SE): The diocese of Hong Kong says that its schools will not introduce National and Moral Education in the wake of an announcement by the chief executive of Hong Kong, Leung Chun-ying, at 7.00pm on September 8 that his administration would shelve the controversial subject for the time being.

Father Stephen Chan, from the Justice and Peace Commission, pointed out that the programme is not scrapped, only postponed.

“It is an adjustment in time not in policy,” UCA News quoted him as saying.

The Catholic Education Office said that its schools should not use the subsidy money allocated by the government for the introduction of the subject.

In the face of an estimated 286,000 people who flocked to the government offices in Tamar during the week prior to Leung’s announcement, with a peak of 120,000 reached on September 8, the chief executive said that it would be left to individual schools to decide when to introduce the subject into their classrooms.

Cardinal Joseph Zen; entrepreneur and publisher, Jimmy Lai; together with democracy and human rights advocate, Martin Lee Chu-ming, were among the most prominent figures spilling into the streets of Admiralty and as far as Causeway Bay on September 7.

Most wore black T-shirts or armbands in mourning for the passing of freedom of thought and expression.

The former bishop of Hong Kong and longtime opponent of the introduction of the curriculum, Cardinal Zen, has consistently described it as a form of brainwashing.

The government sent out mixed messages on its planned response to the massive invasion, which continued for over 10 days. However, it invited a delegation of students and parents to participate in discussions with officials on the implementation of the programme.

Although the government has agreed to shelve the programme for the time being, student and parent leaders are adamant that they want the curriculum scrapped and refused to join talks about its implementation.

On September 11, university students staged an anti-education class strike. It was joined by the Chinese University, Hong Kong University, City University and the Institute of Education.

UCA News quoted Samuel Li Shing-hong, from the students’ federation, as saying, “This issue is not simply about educational policy, but about what Hong Kong will become in the future. We college students are duty bound to take the lead.”

The campaign spread to other parts of the world. A group rallied in London on September 8 outside the territory’s representative offices in the British capital.

Cardinal Zen said on a previous occasion that he believes that Beijing fears the free education process that is widespread in Hong Kong.

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