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Hong Kong: New “Red” Elementary School Curriculum Flames Concern

Under pressure from mainland China, Hong Kong's elementary schools have to start a new curriculum on “national education.” Recently revealed, its module on the “China model” is full of political propaganda, such as the claim that one party dictatorship is more effective than any other democratic political system.

The curriculum on national education is a government funded project contracted to the National Education Service Center under the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers [a pro-China teacher's Union] and the center has received more than HKD30 millions [equivalent to USD4 millions] over the past 4 years for curriculum development and related activities. The actual writing of the teaching manuals has been subcontracted to the Advanced Institute for Contemporary China Studies under the Hong Kong Baptist University.

The cover page of the pedagogy on China Model. Apple Daily News photo.

The cover page of the teaching manual on China Model. Image by Apple Daily News. Permission for non-commercial use.

Outraged by the brainwashing nature of the curriculum, an online signature campaign has been launched to protest against the Baptist University. The protest statement says [zh]:

《中國模式國情專題教學手冊》內容偏頗,一面倒歌頌內地政制以及中國共產黨。我們認為,身為一所肩負香港學術發展責任的大學,應該客觀中立,並從正反兩面審視內地政治,而非濫用大學研究資金完成政治目的。

這書由政府部門資助編製,將來要用作教授中小學生,他們未必有足夠能力判斷本書內容,這本刊物的政治取態將非常關鍵,影響廣大學子對內地的批判思考。然而研究所卻運用「浸會大學」數十年來的學術誠信,編寫出如此偏頗的刊物,所長並公開表明拒絕收回刊物以及改變書內的析述角度,我們表示非常失望。

The content of “Pedagogy on China model” is very biased. It praises the political system in mainland China and the Chinese Communist Party. We believe that as a university that is responsible for our academic development, it should be more objective in presenting the pros and cons of the political system in China, rather than using a public research fund to accomplish its political mission.The set of curriculum is funded by the government for teaching our primary and secondary school children. They are too young to develop their judgement on the content. Its political stand would affect the critical thinking of our pupils toward mainland China. The project has made use of the Baptist University's academic credential [to establish its authority]. We are very disappointed that such biased curriculum has been published and that the head of the Institute has refused to correct the mistake and rewrite the content.

The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ union [zh] also made a public statement against the brain-washing teaching methods, demanding[zh] the Education Bureau make a public announcement that the curriculum is not suitable for educational use. The union has a detailed analysis of the brainwashing nature of the content:

教學手冊中,以「進步、無私與團結的執政集團」去形容現時的中國政府,並認為其特性為:確保施政穩定、確保國土完整、提升國內各族人民及海外華人的向心力、保留中華民族傳統等(p.10),並認為這是社會科學所言的理想型(ideal type) (p.11)。以上遣詞用字,充滿對現政權的阿諛,卻隱藏了連現政府也公開承認的制度問題(如官員監察不足)、貪污腐化問題、內部矛盾問題(如薄熙來事件)等。
另一方面,教材卻偏頗片面地抹黑美國的多黨制民主制度,以「政黨惡鬥,人民當災」作為標題(p.10),指多黨政治帶來經濟損失,卻隻字不提人民普及參與政治的優點。如此扭曲事實,偏離主流觀點的論述,實屬可恥。

The teaching manual describes the current Chinese government as “progressive, unselfish and solid ruling bloc” and its characters are to ensure political stability, territorial sovereignty, solidarity among different ethnic groups in China and the preservation of Chinese national tradition. It claims that the political system is an ideal type of social science (p.11). Such description is full of flattery, without addressing the institutional problems of the current system which have been publicly acknowledged by the Chinese government (such as lack of public monitor), neither does the curriculum  discuss corruption and the internal struggle within the Party (such as the Bo Xilai Incident) and etc.

教材採用大量內地官方樣板式相片及描述作插圖,如胡錦濤考察農村的照片,以「反映中央領導人重視人民、以人為本的執政理念」為題;三峽移民則以樂團奏樂「歡送」庫區移民,並以「最終取得成功」作為結論;而汶川地震則以軍隊救災作為唯一的輔助照片等等,在在反映教材宣揚服膺強權管治,漠視大量弱勢群眾被忽略被壓迫的現實,如大量農民生活困苦、三峽移民補償被侵吞、汶川地震揭發的豆腐渣工程等等。

The curriculum has adopted official photos and descriptions. For example, the photo caption of President Hu Jintao's visit in rural village is “this is a reflection of the central leaders’ concern for people, which is also their political belief”. As for the migration of Three Georges Dam, it uses a photo showing a live band happily saying adieu to the migrants and concludes that it is “an ultimate success.” For the Wenchuan earthquake, the photo is about the Chinese military’ disaster relief effort. The whole idea is to propagate authoritarian rule and neglect how the grassroots are marginalized and oppression in the reality. For example the difficult livelihood of rural peasants, the confiscation of compensation to the Three Georges migrants by the local government and the effect of the tofu-dreg school construction project on the Wenchuan earthquake.

從手冊的參考書目可見(p.34),19份參考資料中,有18份都是內地書目,當中完全沒有香港及海外學者的論著,反映教學手冊的取材及學理基礎非常偏頗及薄弱。然而手冊完全沒有列出作者或編輯人員名單,只指出由浸會大學當代中國研究中心編製,但綜觀參考書目全是內地資料,教材內的論調非常內地化,有理由相信教材是由內地人士編撰。在學生、教師及公眾廣泛關注國民教育會否被「染紅」之時,教育局必須向公眾澄清教材的真正編撰人的身份。

In the reference page (p.34) of the curriculum manual, among the 19 references, 18 of them are mainland Chinese publications. There is no reference cited from academic work in Hong Kong and overseas. The academic background of the curriculum is deficient. We can't see the list of editors in the publication page, it only states that it is written by the Advanced Institute for Contemporary China Studies of the Baptist University. However, judging from the reference, content and the linguist tone, we believe the it is composed by mainland Chinese. Since the Hong Kong public, including our students and teachers are very concerned that the national education be tainted red, the Education Bureau should clarify the real identity of the writers.

In the past few days, student activist group, Scholarism, has been following the new head of Education Bureau Eddie Ng Hak Kim [zh], to express their anger towards the national education's agenda. Below is a “wanted” poster of Eddie Ng created by Scholarism in Facebook [zh]:

Wanted: Eddie Ng. Image by Scholarism on their facebook page.

Wanted: Eddie Ng. Image by Scholarism on their facebook page.

A comment under the poster says [zh]:

這就是香港的”反殖民”運動. 香港於十九、二十世紀多次出現反殖民運動, 包括1925-1926 的省港大罷工、大罷市、大罷貨、大罷課.
新殖民地宗主 PRC, 你現在明白到香港人是不會接受硬鎖方法了嗎?
請繼續用CEPA”挺港、送禮”的大話吧, 愚蠢的港人會比較 buy 這一套洗腦方法.

This is part of the Hong Kong “anti colonial” movement. Hong Kong had a number of anti-colonial movements in the 19th and 20th Century, such as the series of workers, students and consumers strikes in 1925-1926 Guangdong and Hong Kong [against the Japanese invasion]. The new colonizer, PRC [People Republic of China], do you understand that Hong Kong people will not accept [your] hard handed policy? The lie about sending gifts to Hong Kong through the “CEPA” [Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement] works better, less intelligent people in Hong Kong would buy that brainwashing.

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