09/26/2011, 00.00
HONG KONG - CHINA
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Cardinal Zen: Beijing National Education a form of "brainwashing"

The retired bishop of Hong Kong, attacks the Chinese government proposal that imposes separate classes for "national education". According to the prelate, "they want to foment nationalism, the Church does not accept this situation." Hong Kong deputies also express doubts.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The reform of school management in Hong Kong will see a range of subjects that are a means to "brainwash" students. According to the bishop emeritus of the Territory, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, "Teachers and students must oppose this plan, which is too vague and tends to encourage an extreme nationalism."

According to the government proposal made, all schools in Hong Kong - from primary school onwards – will have to include non-defined "national education classes" as a separate subject in the syllabus. Speaking at a forum organized by the Office for Catholic Education, the prelate posed the question, "What exactly does the subject want to teach? Does national education mean unconditional support for the Communist Party?".

Card. Zen said the church's autonomy in school management provided "checks and balances" against inappropriate national education imposed by the government. "The Catholic Church is obliged to offer this system against the government and to uphold people's power, and we have never abused this power," he said. "Without this [autonomy], the government can do whatever it wants, including brainwashing youths with wrong and extreme nationalism. "

The local government supports this criticism. According to education sector lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong, "the government should not force national education on all primary and secondary schools and that schools' autonomy should be defended. If teachers wish, they must be able to object and decide what to teach in freedom. "
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