Education: Indoctrination and assimilation is increasing
Schools in Hong Kong (HK) are being hijacked by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as vehicles for indoctrination of party ideology, and the assimilation of divergent cultures and local values and identity into the dominant mainland Han culture. This began even before the passing of National Security laws (NSL) in 2020 which, though widely condemned for their vagueness and over-reach, are being rammed home by Chief Executive Carrie Lam acting as puppet and task master for the CCP.
If you have ever studied Education as a subject at university you will most likely have been asked to consider the function and purposes of Education from both a philosophical standpoint and a practical one. Historically practitioners in the East and the West have approached education differently, but in the current decade it is easier than ever to find areas of convergence and integration with scholars and academics sharing ideas freely.
the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically
the absorption and integration of people, ideas, or culture into a wider society or culture
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#one: Language Policy and Practice
Children in the Tibetan Autonomous Region are losing fluency in the Tibetan language as schools in the region are increasingly teaching subjects in Mandarin on Chinese government orders.
Under UN obligations Hakka, Tanka and all national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities children must be taught in school using their mother tongue - however in HK they are being taught only HK Cantonese dialect which is illegal assimilation! This is linguistic discrimination.
Educational policy is having a real impact on minorities children in the city. It is assumed that all children in HK speak Chinese language hence Chinese Medium of Instruction is given priority! This is discrimination! The UN 'Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities' is the standard! Minorities children have the right to their mother tongue, but little is being done of a practical nature to meet this expectation.
Wealthy parents often seek private and international schools for their children that employ English language as medium of instruction, and streamlined pathways to tertiary education in HK or overseas.
Increasingly Mandarin can be heard on television, in the streets and it is also used in some business places, rather than local Cantonese. It's an aspect of 'mainlandisation' occurring in the city, in part due to permitted migration from across the city's border.
Mainland Chinese teachers involved in teacher exchange schemes working with HK compatriots report the expectation that they will adapt CCP's ideological education to each school’s context and peculiarities.
#two: Propaganda in textbooks
Schools, curriculum, textbooks and teachers themselves have come under recent attack in HK, showing that the field of Education truly is the frontline for CCP. Their aim is to turn Education in HK into a tool of the state, to enhance its control and brainwashing of the populous. In what can only be regarded as political warfare, the long term aim is to assimilate HK as part of China.
It's illegal, of course, under China's policy of one country, two systems, but the CCP tends to act as a law unto itself.
At any rate, many are increasingly of the view that the 'One country two systems' mantra serves only as a veneer of respectability to cover up all kinds of authoritarian interference and manipulation going on behind the scenes - and sometimes even in broad daylight under the glare of public perception!
It's clear that the CCP wishes to control all its citizens' minds, and that it's in this fight for the long term.
What the CCP is doing is more insidious that controlling the media, censorship or publishing propaganda to manipulate the narrative [Follow this link to a video about how China is using Russian brainwashing tactics].
In January 2020 CCP announced new guidelines banning overseas teaching materials. In future, authors, publishers and teachers are required to promote the "spirit of Xi Jinping Thought" in all teaching materials used from primary through to senior high school in mainland China.
In November 2019 the CCP's Central Committee unveiled a plan for 'Patriotic Education' in the mainland, HK and Macau. The party intends to push its ideological indoctrination through schools and universities, extending to people from all walks of life through the activities of the United Front Work Department.
#three: Teachers are a target
A teacher has been deregistered by the HK Education Bureau (eDB) – i.e., banned from teaching for life – for designing a lesson on free speech for a Primary Five class at the Alliance Primary School in Kowloon Tong. Teachers are no longer respected for their judgement or professionalism.
In this case the lesson for which the deregistered teacher was punished occurred in March 2019, long before anyone in this city could even imagine the dystopian legislation that was imposed on Hong Kong 15 months later – National Security legislation (NSL), it should be noted, which is not retroactive in effect. Moreover, the banned teacher did not actually teach – although he did design – the offending lesson.
Clearly, then, while the NSL is not legally retroactive, it seems to have given a certain retrospective kick in the backside to kowtowing officials in the EDB who found the teacher guilty of “professional misconduct” warranting lifetime excommunication from his chosen profession.
The teacher has lodged an appeal, but his prospects of success look bleak. None of the six appeals heard over the last five years have succeeded. (HKFreePress, 19 October 2020)
#four: The Blame Game
Why has there so much civil unrest in HK? Why is the government and the party being attacked? The CCP and the HK government itself have consistently failed to accept that their own policies and behaviour are the root of discontent in the SAR. Instead they look for other causes and things to blame for their shortcomings.
The teachers are to blame. The Principals are to blame. The schools are to blame. The curriculum is to blame. The foreigners are to blame. The media are to blame. Be careful as YOU could be blamed next!
EDB wants every school to play and students to sing China's national anthem. Teachers are to call the police in when students are found to be breaking any of the NSL edicts. Teachers and students are NOT to be involved in a strike or protest action. Teachers are required to undergo specified training, and may even be required to swear an oath of allegiance. Schools are being monitored. Teachers may find their contract will not renewed, while others have been censured. Special teacher 'training' is compulsory.
#five: It's self-policing, self-fulfilling
As white terror in the city has spread people are self-censoring. If perchance you don't self-censor you run the risk of being dobbed in by someone wishing to score brownie points with CCP. It could be a teacher, colleague, classmate, parent or school that reports your behaviour to the police. Maybe you didn't sound patriotic enough when you sung the national anthem, or it was the leading questions you asked in class, or the fact that you've chosen to re-read Gorge Orwell's 1984!
China’s election to the UN Human Rights Council revealed its shaky global status, (Quartz, 14 October 2020)
It was in part due to the efforts of Eleanore Roosevelt that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights came into being in 1948. The U.N. was founded at a time when people like Eleanor Roosevelt wanted to address human rights as a way of preventing war.
#six: Harnessing the curriculum
Notices sent out to schools city-wide in the first week of February 2021 require them to prevent participation in political activities, increase monitoring of employees and teaching materials, remove books and flyers deemed to endanger national security, and to report students to authorities if necessary.
New teaching materials include an animated video featuring an owl teaching a young boy and girl about the establishment of the NSL and the individual offences.
The animation – entitled Let’s Learn About National Security and accompanied by upbeat music and quirky sound effects – appears aimed at young children but uses technical and legal terms.
In one clip shared online, students learn that “for the sake of HK’s continuous development and long-term prosperity, the national security law has been enacted”, and lists out western countries that have adopted laws to safeguard national security .
“Every one of us loves Hong Kong, our home. We all hope that our families and people around us can lead happy and stable lives,” the girl says, as images of bright skies, a playground and bustling cityscapes pop up. (The Guardian, 5 February 2021)
Significantly, the curriculum change cuts across a range of subjects including even Biology and Geography. Primary school students will also be taught how to sing and respect the national anthem and learn about how the People's Liberation Army protects HK. Older students will learn about the limits of HK's rights and freedoms....Schools are required to stop students and teachers from singing specific songs - a nod to a trend in schools last year where children would drown out the Chinese national anthem with protest songs. (BBC, 5 February 2021)
Article 10 of the national security law, enacted in July 2020 in response to the year-long anti-extradition protests, binds the HK government to promote national security education in schools, universities, and via civic groups and media outlets.
The guidelines circulated on February 5 also list topics teachers must include in the school curriculum. For example, the nine-dash line will be taught in Geography, China's policies in preventing infectious diseases in Biology, and the correct manner of singing the Chinese national anthem in Music classes. The instructions also prohibit teachers from taking an argumentative approach when lecturing on topics related to national security. (Global Voices, 10 February 2021)
Learning about certain people and current events now off-limits in HK
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At this stage CCP's intentions for the Education sector in HK are creating a ripple effect, much like a frog jumping into a pond. How much of a wave it creates in the longer term is yet to be seen, but it looks like even the more independent international schools and religious schools have to adapt to changing circumstances. Some teachers will choose to leave the profession. Some parents will send their kids to be educated overseas.
Amongst free-thinking HK people there has always been resistance to indoctrination and assimilation when such influence did not suit them. It looks likely that resistance will continue while CCP and the HK government continue to act for only their own selfish interests.
Further reading on the winds of change sweeping HK Education:
Some nations have commemorated the life of the coronavirus whistleblower Dr Li Wenliang in postage stamps - a man the CCP would most likely want us all to forget.
Here are links to a range of other blogs we have published on repression, human rights and educational matters:
Can HK students read literature that has parallels in real life?