CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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How will the LegCo stand on national education?

HONG KONG (SE): Candidates in geographical constituencies running for the Legislative Council (LegCo) in the September 9 election who replied to a survey carried out by the Parents Concern Group on National Education in mid-August, showed a distinct preference as a group for the withdrawal of the government demand for National and Moral Education.

About two-thirds of these candidates answered the question, “I call on the government to withdraw the National and Moral Education Curriculum Guide before the beginning of school in September 2012 and (call) for new consultations,” affirmatively.

Sixteen said they had a more nuanced response. Those who elaborated called for a cooling off period for further consultation, a prototype to be run and then reconsidered at the end of a set timeframe, or a comprehensive review at the end of three years.

However, only 28 candidates for the functional constituencies replied to the survey and of those 11 said they are in favour of withdrawing the subject now.

Only three candidates answered the question, “I support the government’s scheduled introduction of the trial run for the National and Moral Education Curriculum starting in September 2012 and the comprehensive rolling out of the curriculum at the end of the three-year period,” affirmatively.

They are Ng Wing-chun (Hong Kong Island), Chan Mei-tak (Agriculture and Fisheries) and Frankie Yan Man-sing (Financial Services). Fourteen of the 16 candidates whose seats are uncontested did not reply to the survey.

The concern group sent emails or faxes to every candidate in both the geographical and functional constituencies on August 13 and followed up this initial contact with a telephone call.

Candidates were asked to state their position on the education controversy by August 21, later extended to 5.00pm on August 25. They were published on August 26, two weeks prior to the people going to the polls.

Candidates from the Democratic Party, People Power, Labour Party, Civic Party, League of Social Democrats, Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood, Hong Kong Awakening Association, Neo-Democrats and the Neighbourhood and Workers Centre, all joined the call to withdraw the curriculum.

They were joined by some independents and some who did not express any political affiliation.

The response from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) said, “The government has set a three-year initiation period… The DAB believes schools should decide for themselves whether or not to launch a trial run in September, based on preparedness.”

It then goes on to say, “There should be a thorough review of the experience of the three-year period, including whether National and Moral Education should be an independent subject.”

The Liberal Party says that it is requesting the government to postpone the implementation and restart consultations, rather than to withdraw it completely. It adds that while this may be the position of the party, it is not necessarily the opinion of its four candidates running in the election.

Groups that did not reply to the survey include the New People’s Party, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, Kowloon West New Dynamic, the Democratic Front, Economic Synergy, the Federation of Hong Kong and Kowloon Labour Unions and some independent candidates.

All candidates in the Education, Legal and Architectural, Surveying and Planning Functional Constituencies are asking that the curriculum and the curriculum guide be withdrawn.

The Parents Concern Group on National Education says, “We believe the national and moral education issue is one that is intricately linked to the individual growth of our next generation and to the overall development of our society.”

It is calling for people to protect the core values of Hong Kong society.

In the wash up, although pro-Beijing parties are crowing about their success in the election, 28 candidates who said that they are against the education curriculum were elected to the LegCo.

The group is promising to monitor the ongoing performance of the successful candidates, as the issue is still far from being finally resolved.

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