NOTICE-Patriotism and the New Subject of Citizenship and Social Development in Hong Kong

A careful reading of the new curriculum guideline of a new subject, namely Citizenship and Social Development, derived and evolved from ancient liberal studies, shows that Chinese patriotism has already been injected into its content and that Hong Kong’s growing teachers and students are expected to increase its patriotic feeling in the years to come.

On June 2, the Education Department Bureau (EDB) released the curriculum and assessment guidelines for the new subject Citizenship and Social Development. The purpose of the guideline is to emphasize “respect for multicultural perspectives and viewpoints so that students can think carefully and see things clearly, engage in rational, reflective and independent thinking” (Wen Wei Po, June 3, 2021, p. A6). This goal is different from the former goal of the Liberal Studies subject, which was originally intended not only to “respect multicultural perspectives and points of view”, but also to train students to “become people in the world”. critical, reflective and independent mind. Whereas the old liberal studies emphasized the “critical” capacity of students, the new reform of Citizenship and Social Development emphasized the need for students to “think carefully” and “to distinguish things clearly” without simply adopt a “critical” attitude.

Other differences between the new subject, Citizenship and Social Development, and the old subject of liberal studies relate to three aspects. First, while the new subject Citizenship and Social Development trains students “to adopt multiple perspectives and angles to think about contemporary topics” that are already maturely developed”, the old liberal studies encouraged students to adopt several angles to reflect “currently”. emerging topics such as culture, society, economy, politics and technology. Of course, the new Citizenship and Social Development does not encourage students to deal with today’s politically evolving issues, whereas the old subject of liberal studies allowed considerable latitude for the teacher and students to explore developing topics, including including political and controversial issues. The new subject Citizenship and Social Development appears to depoliticize the curriculum, minimizing the opportunity for teachers and students to cover common and politically controversial and sensitive topics.

Second, the Citizenship and Social Development subject aims to train students to “understand the complexity of subjects, the challenges of decision-making processes so that they can offer rational and legal analyzes and learn to deal with conflicting values”. The old liberal studies curriculum did not require students to “understand the complexity of the subjects and the challenges of the decision-making processes”. Clearly, the new Citizenship and Social Development subject encourages both teachers and students to be more “objective” and “holistic” about government decision-making processes and issues that illustrate conflicting cultural and political values. If liberal studies embodies a bias towards Western liberalism, then Citizenship and Social Development encompasses more non-Western ideas and Chinese perspectives, including an appreciation of the conflicts between Chinese and Western civilizations and values.

Third, whereas the old liberal studies did not emphasize the element of Chinese culture and identity, the new citizenship and social development subject explicitly aims to educate students to “appreciate, appreciate and accept different cultures and viewpoints simultaneously and deepen their individual understanding and identification. with Chinese cultural tradition, Chinese nationality and Chinese national identity. Clearly, educational reformers in Hong Kong believed that the subject of liberal studies, which simply trained students to be “critical” without appreciating Chinese cultural tradition and national identity, was a relatively “unpatriotic” which needs to be rectified in the new curriculum.

Education Secretary Kevin Yeung said on June 2 that the government would provide a grant of HK$900,000 to each public and directly subsidized secondary school to provide logistical support for related teaching and learning activities. . These activities would include ten hours of inspection visits on the mainland, the purchase of teaching materials and facilities, the organization of school, interdisciplinary and interdisciplinary activities.

Hong Kong Education Secretary Kevin Yeung Yun-hung

Secondary schools are tackling the new Citizenship and Social Development subject by redeploying existing teaching resources and staff. Additionally, government grants to secondary schools include e-learning facilities and activities, reference books, and exchange programs with the mainland. However, the use of grants cannot be overlapped by asking the government to subsidize the same project elements more than once.

Judging from the guidelines on the new curriculum, the ingredient of Chinese patriotism has been strengthened. The subject of Hong Kong under “one country, two systems” should emphasize that Hong Kong since ancient times has remained a Chinese territory, with its sovereignty and administration being possessed by China. For the topic on balancing national security law on the one hand and rule of law and human rights on the other, the guideline states that national security law “does not has no impact on the rule of law in Hong Kong and the rights enjoyed by Hong Kong residents under the law. Regarding the relationship between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, the directive states that the three branches have their own functions and functions and that they are complementary. On interdependence in the contemporary world, the guideline says China’s contributions to anti-Covid19 efforts and its vaccine production should be considered. Finally, on the theme of the Chinese nation after the open door policy, the mutually beneficial economic relations of the closer economic partnership agreement should be completed. In short, the mainland’s inseparable relationship with Hong Kong and China’s significant contributions to both Hong Kong and the world should be taught and emphasized in the new subject Citizenship and Social Development.

The EDB has already sent its directive to the publishers concerned so that authors of textbooks and reference works take into consideration how to write or offer suitable reading materials. It is planned that the textbooks for the fourth and fifth grade will be published in 2022 so that secondary schools can use these materials during the school year 2022-2023.

In response to the new directive on citizenship and social development, Vice President of the Federation of Education Workers, Mr. Tang Fei, remarked that while liberal studies in the past lacked a holistic approach to educate students in mainland China, the new subject can take a more comprehensive approach by linking “one country, two systems” to the Basic Law, national development, and the relationship between the Chinese nation and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ( HKSAR). Tang said the new subject is “more systematic” and addresses “the whole learning process in a logical way.” He suggested that the government consider either adjusting the annual grant to each secondary school upwards after a year of implementation or institutionalizing this grant in the future.

Vice President of the Hong Kong Liberal Studies Education Society, Lee Wai-hung, said that the subject of liberal studies which places too much emphasis on the “critical” attitude of students creates a lot of problems (Wen Wei Po, June 3, 2021, p. A6). Nevertheless, the new subject can reinforce the elements of “law, emotion and reasons”. In this way, the new curriculum can teach students the legal foundations appropriately to prevent anyone from spreading “the distorted theory of ”breaking the law to obtain justice””, but also an arbitrary way of interpreting the “one countries, two systems”. Lee added that the New Subject Directive correctly reminds teachers of the need to carefully select and use internet sources and media materials. This would save some teachers from using material that “distorts the facts”. He believed that mainland visits would be important for local students, who in the past had to be persuaded by school authorities to visit the mainland to broaden their horizons and deepen their understanding of the homeland.

Consequently, patriotic education elites in the Hong Kong SAR support the priorities of the new subject and remain critical of the “distorted” curriculum design, pedagogy and goals of the Hong Kong SAR. subject of liberal studies.

On the same day of June 2, the Chinese Ministry of Education released a report on life and language development in the Greater Bay Area (GBA). The report advocates that Hong Kong’s education system integrate Putonghua into the examination assessment system. It says people in Hong Kong should know Simplified Chinese characters so that more Hong Kongers can “acquire the train ticket to the world and the economy fast train to the mainland.” With Hong Kong SAR and Macao being integrated into China’s national GBA integration plan, the popularization of Putonghua and its integration into the Hong Kong examination system is only a matter of time.

Overall, the replacement of the old subject of liberal studies with the new subject of citizenship and social development was an important move by the Hong Kong SAR government to begin to instill Chinese patriotism into the psyche of Hong Kong youth. This Chinese patriotism is made explicit in the latest published directive from Citizenship and Social Development. Along with the early and accelerated integration of Putonghua into Hong Kong’s examination system, Hong Kong’s education system and curriculum have undergone rapid reforms to strengthen the element of Chinese patriotism. By 2047, most people in Hong Kong will likely become much more politically patriotic than the current generation.

Joel C. Hicks