Undignified treatment of HK teachers, parents and students
Updated: Feb 17
Imagine being a passenger on a plane in February 2021, and being hijacked by armed terrorists. What would you do? It's bad enough that when you are in the middle of a global Covid-19 pandemic getting a flight is difficult, and the risk of infection flying on a plane is also scary. The compounding crisis of then being hijacked by a bunch of armed, calculated and very determined thugs is enough to make even the most stoic teacher or student crack under the strain!
This is what it's like for teachers and students in Hong Kong (HK) right now.
If a single teacher on board that hijacked plane speaks out they will most likely be shot on the spot. The terrorist's intent is to teach others on board the plane that is the HK SAR a lesson, that resistance is futile. If a group of brave teachers or students work together to take out their captors, that would indeed be a very brave thing to do - but what is the chance of success? Remember, the hijackers are armed and organised. For all we know there are other hidden terrorists seated on the plane around us, acting as spies, and working in kahoots with the hijackers!
The HK education sector has become just one of several fronts where the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is battling against any notions of democracy, against freedom fighters, against any form of dissent. The CCP has enlisted its allies for the battle in HK the Chief Executive (CE) Carrie Lam, pro-Beijing legislators and political parties, as well as whatever mechanisms of state it can: legislation in the form of National Security Law (NSL), the HK Police Force, and the Education Bureau (EDB).
In early February 2021 HK's EDB announced a wide-reaching overhaul of school curriculum that would essentially require the teaching of the NSL legislation and aim to instil hallmark Chinese patriotism:
"Hong Kong ordered schools to adopt a new national education curriculum that aims to instill “an affection for the Chinese people” and weed out teachers who breach a draconian security law imposed by Beijing last year.
The measures, announced late Thursday, will require primary and secondary school students to memorize the law’s offenses, which include subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers. Authorities are also looking to incorporate national security education into all subjects, from geography to biology, the government said in a statement.
“The fundamentals of national security education are to develop in students a sense of belonging to the country, an affection for the Chinese people, a sense of national identity, as well as an awareness of and a sense of responsibility for safeguarding national security,” the Education Bureau said in a statement. “As far as prevention and education are concerned, schools have a significant role to play.”
"Under the new rules, schools are instructed to inform police as well as parents of students who are involved in "political propaganda" such as chanting slogans, posting political material or promoting a political stance, the Hong Kong Free Post reported....
...The [EDB] notice adds that schools should teach kindergarten students to understand Hong Kong as China and their identity as Chinese....
...International schools and private schools in the city that teach their own curriculum "have the responsibility to help their students (regardless of their ethnicity and nationality) acquire a correct and objective understanding and appreciation of the concept of national security and the national security law," the notice said."
"Teachers should “clearly point out that safeguarding national security is the responsibility of all nationals and that as far as national security is concerned, there is no room for debate or compromise.”
"Children in primary schools will learn how to sing and “respectfully listen” to the national anthem, learn about police and the People’s Liberation Army as protectors of Hong Kong, as well as about the four main offences in the security law, including terrorism and secessionism.
"In secondary schools, pupils will learn about the challenges and opportunities the Chinese nation faces on the world stage and what constitutes the four main offences, which can carry sentences of up to life in prison."
At the same time the EDB is carrying out a revision of the controversial Liberal Studies topic taught in HK secondary schools:
"Liberal studies has been blamed by pro-Beijing figures for fuelling anti-government sentiment among students during the social unrest of 2019, with some people also claiming the teaching materials are biased.
"Education officials are now proposing to reduce the current six modules to three, covering only Hong Kong being administered under the "One Country, Two Systems" principle, the country since its reforms and opening up, and the contemporary world.
"Students will be taught about the constitutional relationship between the SAR and the nation, safeguarding national security, how mainlanders' "quality of life has improved" and the enhancement of national strength, among other things."
Of course these changes have raised the ire of those directed effected - the teachers, the students and probably parents too. School authorities are being told by the EDB to explain to staff that the NSL curriculum is for "the safety" of the children. What students have to be protected from is not exactly clear, though of course 'safety' is an admirable idea and a plausible excuse or cover for what is really happening. How does singing the national anthem, for example, enhance student safety?
The Professional Teachers' Union (PTU) was reported as saying "the sector is angry about proposed changes to the liberal studies subject that will put a heavy emphasis on national education" (RTHK). Speaking on an RTHK programme, Tin Fong-chak, who's a vice-president of the PTU as well as a liberal studies teacher, said the purpose of the subject was to examine the pros and cons of an issue, but the suggested changes only stress improvements to the country.
"[The proposed changes] are inclined to talk about the positive things of the country, a kind of spoon-feeding education. I think that's why we are angry. It's so different from the original purpose [of Liberal Studies]," he said.
But there's is no sign that any criticism or public outcry is going to change EDB plans. In fact authorities seem to be intent on steam rolling it into place with new teaching materials, teacher training, and monitoring of schools being put in place.
The EDB in HK has to keep their finger on the pulse of what is happening in schools and other places of learning across the territory, provide reassuring guidance to schools, parents and students, and set some expectations. As an agency of government the EDB 'vision and mission' statements are about providing quality school education for students, developing their students' potential to the full and preparing them for life challenges. Strangely, there is NO mention whatsoever of the HKSAR meeting all UN obligations for education, including those in UNCRC 29 1 (a-e) (see below). The EDB say they deliver professional services and ensure effective use of resources, while forging partnerships to promote excellence in school education.
It seems the EDB has lost sight of its mission and instead become a tool for the CCP. Whose education is it?
While the trust which the public of HK places in their government has fallen to an all time low in the last few years, the reversal of this has been a growth in the DISTRUST of the professionalism of teachers, and a decline in respect for the rights of children and their parents.
The EDB and the HK government is showing no compassion for the plight of teachers already burdened with heavy workloads and the normal stresses of teaching in a system that places heavy emphasis on examinations, having to contend with the associated risks of face to face teaching during the pandemic, then social distancing, managing a transition to online learning, ongoing testing, and next being subject to significant curriculum change. This is to say nothing of the personal strain of managing and minding the children they teach suffering for months on end from the effects of the pandemic, while juggling their own lives and family concerns.
WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH??
The changes forced upon schools by the government that aim to back up its NSL and begin the process of assimilation of the youth of HK are an affront to the sensibilities of both teachers and students, and effectively deny parents any say in their children's education. CCP has no compassion for HongKongers. The party is without empathy - a mindless nuclear armed, significantly militarized religious cult that is relentless in its ham-fisted, unthinking, uncaring, bureaucratic moves on the city.
There is talk that teachers will soon have to swear oaths, just like legislators and civil servants have been made to do. It's more grist for the mill for the CCP who can dismiss anyone who steps out of line. Part of the problem is that the NSL is so deliberately vague, what a teacher or student says or does today, might be deemed a betrayal tomorrow: the strategy of CCP is to make sure everyone is obedient and scared!
HK teachers and their students are all more or less hostages, or captive prisoners of war!
Already some people charged under the NSL have found that publicly expressed opinions that pre-date the NSL law are being used as and an indication of their disposition or predeliction towards an offence under the NSL. That is to say, the possibility of receiving fair treatment from your government as an employer, or a fair hearing in a NSL court seems somewhat suspect.
Teacher's have been subject to anonymous complaints. Some have had their registration cancelled, or been censured by authorities. Others have been denied the right to address the accusations and complaints levelled at them.
It's a rotten situation for teachers, but well-intentioned members of the profession cannot help but feel anxious and concerned for their students who are destined for a future in servitude to CCP as long as it and the current government of HK get their way. Some will not wish to submit to CCP brain-washing or be a part of the process, but what alternative is there in the circumstances? Remember what it's like to be stuck on a hijacked airplane?
Through our growing awareness (consciousness) we can empower our 'true self' to naturally maintain good health, even in these awful circumstances: this is the seat of our human dignity and our human rights including ICCPR article 6 'supreme right' the 'right to life'. You are your own person. We must never just 'hand over' our natural good health powers, our human dignity and rights, to CCP or to anyone for them to just use and abuse us (e.g. employers, doctors, governments, Big Pharma, etc.)! CCP ought to stop its human farming!
The people of HK have their own culture and identity, and CCP's assimilationist tactics that treat the city's inhabitants as an insignificant or irrelevant minority within greater China are abhorrent. The party wins no friends or allies by either its arrogant breach of the Joint Declaration it signed with the UK at the handover, or its stupification of the education system
While it could be a matter of survival - everyone looking after themselves - I don't think that either teachers or students will forget that there is strength in unity, that we are all in this together against our common enemy.
Please read some of our other blogs on Education concerns, and distribute widely:
In Hong Kong the fox is in-charge of the chickens! [Includes issues for ethnic minorities and their children]
Please read some of our other blogs on NSL:
Please read some of our other blogs on the CCP in HK:
Bloomberg Quint 11 February 2021 'Patriotic Education in Hong Kong Won’t Make the Grade'
RFA 5 February 2021 Interview: 'How Can I Teach Without my Principles?'
HKFP 11 December 2019 Hong Kong Education Bureau ‘considering penalties’ for around 30 teachers over protest-related conduct complaints
SCMP/YahooNews 10 June 2020 Punish any students or teachers who join planned strike over national security law, Hong Kong education chief tells schools
RTHK 18 June 2020 'Ip Kin-yuen doubts EDB motive behind school letters'
RTHK 3 July 2020 'Place cameras in class to monitor teachers'
TheSunDaily 15 July 2020 Hong Kong academics fear for freedom under new security law
The Telegraph 25 July 2020 Hong Kong teachers fired under Beijing 'patriotism' push
Independent 6 October 2020 Hong Kong teacher loses job for asking students 'what is freedom of speech?'
HKFP 1 November 2020 Interview: Union chief says Hong Kong gov’t is ‘anti-education’ and attempting to silence teachers
HKFP 13 November 2020 Second Hong Kong teacher sacked, this time for Opium War blunder as lawmaker says punishment too harsh
RTHK 5 December 2020 Doubts on liberal studies reform 'unnecessary': govt
HKFP, 15 January 2021 Another Hong Kong teacher under investigation over ‘biased’ teaching material, may face disqualification
The Sun Daily 5 February 2021 Hong Kong unveils national security guidelines for children aged six and above
A student holds a drawing of schoolchildren being detained by Hong Kong Police during pro-democracy protests, June 2020.
UNCRC Article 29
Publicly funded education in HK is intended for ALL children (regardless of ethnicity), but they are NOT currently being“educated” according to UNCRC Article 29.1 a-e including (quote):
“1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:
(a) The development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;
(b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;
(c) The development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;
(d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;
(e) The development of respect for the natural environment.”