John Lee Chi-kin, the new president of the Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK), said his top priority was to enhance prospective teachers’ awareness of ethics and to promote national security education, further tightening Beijing’s ideological grip over the former British colony.
Mr. Lee, a member of Beijing’s Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in Hong Kong, told media on Sept. 15 that the university would reform its education curriculum from the 2024–2025 academic year and strengthen “teacher ethics training.” All students enrolled in the Bachelor of Education program are required to take a guidance course on conduct before starting their internship.
Meanwhile, schools where the students will intern will be invited to score them. If their conduct is not up to standard, it will be recorded on their graduation certificate or score sheet, which may affect the future careers of the prospective teachers.
Teachers’ Ethics on Par with National SecurityIn May at the 19th National Congress, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping said it was necessary to “strengthen the construction of teacher ethics and style."
Similarly, at a meeting of the Legislative Council in late 2022, Mr. Lee, the then academic and principal vice president of EdUHK, called to “strengthen the implementation of teacher ethics and national security education in schools to prepare for internships," saying that “[we] expect students at the University to work on teacher ethics and have a basic understanding of the country and its national conditions in terms of national security education.”
For this purpose, EdUHK also set up a flag-raising team that promotes “patriotism education,” which has been extended to places outside the secular world in Mainland China, such as monasteries and Taoist temples. The team, according to Mr. Lee, “aims to make students aware of the etiquette of [raising] the national flag.”
CCP Fears New HK Immigrants Learning TruthOpposition to national education in Hong Kong since 2012 has triggered a movement against CCP ideology in the education sector, mainly by secondary school students, which was strengthened by the umbrella movement in 2014 and the Anti-ELAB movement in 2019.
A number of secondary and tertiary students previously told The Epoch Times that family influence and school education are the key factors for them to be able to think independently and recognize what is right and wrong.
Some new immigrants from mainland China who came to Hong Kong to study also participated in civil disobedience activities.
Mr. Wong (a pseudonym), a Chinese language teacher in a secondary school, previously told The Epoch Times that every June 4, he would remind his class that it's a day for them to remember. He would play a short movie on June 4 to introduce the causes and consequences of the incident to his students.
Some students from the mainland said, "This is the way it is. It is different from the mainland version," some others said that they wanted to know more about it, and some even wanted to participate in the June 4 candlelight vigil, according to Mr. Wong.
However, after implementing the Hong Kong National Security Law in 2020, Beijing-controlled Hong Kong authorities started to suppress the city’s intellectuals and education sector.
Secretary for Education Choy Yuk-lin, when asked in late 2022 whether teaching about the Tiananmen Square Massacre in class would violate the guide, said that it would be unprofessional for teachers to talk about whatever comes to their minds.
Hong Kong Lost 27,000 Students Amid ‘Education Migration’After the penetration of mainland China’s pro-Beijing education in Hong Kong, Hong Kongers who attach importance to their children's education have started a new round of “education migration.” According to the latest statistic released by the Hong Kong Education Bureau in July, the city has lost around 27,000 primary and secondary students in 2022.
According to an unnamed English secondary school principal, the government is reluctant to admit that the immigration wave has led to a sharp decline in the number of students, but officials and the education sector are all aware of the situation.
“Data talks. If it’s only a natural flow, why wasn’t there such an obvious loss before 2019?” the principal told The Epoch Times.
The Hong Kong authorities’ civil service statistics show that the total number of civil servants who left the civil service in 2022 was as high as 10,126, of which nearly 4,000 resigned. Meanwhile, in the three years since the anti-ELAB campaign, the net decrease in the number of primary and secondary school students has soared over 10 times.
Ms. Lam, who took her 15-year-old son to a New York high school in late August, said the boy was reluctant to leave at first because he didn’t want to leave his friends.
“However, this year, the Education Department stipulated that all secondary school students must go to the mainland for exchange tours, or else they would not be able to graduate,” she told The Epoch Times. “He finally agreed to go to the United States earlier, saying he didn’t want to be brainwashed in China.”
Ms. Lam, a foreign media reporter sensitive to political risks, said she originally planned to send her son to a university overseas after he graduates from high school, but the national security law that came into force in Hong Kong forced her to advance her plans.