10/09/2012, 00.00
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End to Hong Kong's 'national education,' a victory for civil society

Hong Kong's chief executive shelves Beijing-imposed curriculum. For Catholic Social Communications Office director, "This is the last stage in the matter. Led by highly mobilised youth, the people won."

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying announced that the controversial guidelines for national education will be shelved. "I hope [the policy change] can [. . .] rebuild mutual trust in society," he explained. Likewise, "This is a victory for civil society," said Dominic Y. Yung, director of the Hong Kong Catholic Social Communications Office. "The end of national education in Hong Kong shows the cohesion of the people and its will not to give in to abuses."

Since 2002, the Catholic Church has led the fight against the reform to the former British colony's school system, which would have created a complex structure in each school with pro-mainland elected officials.

The reform would have included "national education" courses to glorify China's successes without any mention of its violations of human and civil rights.

According to Card Zen, a leading figure in the fight against the government, national education is a form of student "brain washing". In order to oppose the government reform, the prelate even went on a hunger strike.

"This is a great injustice to the Church and the territory of Hong Kong that could have destroyed its educational system, one of the best in region in terms of quality and efficiency," he told AsiaNews.

Still, for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, "the reform is not scrapped," Dr Yung told AsiaNews.  

However, for him, "This must be the end of the matter. I do not think the government will pursue it. I do not think there will be further action on their part or on the part of the Church."

More importantly, another aspect has to be highlighted. "We achieved a social, not a political victory," he explained.

"Mobilising young people, especially high school students, against the new curriculum was impressive and effective. This is a great step forward for all of us in our sense of community consciousness."

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