【明報專訊】THE INTRODUCTION OF moral and national education in schools, which started as an educational issue, has now led to a confrontation between the government and those opposed to the national education subject. A strong sense of political conflict is in the air.
It is the government that is to blame for the politicisation of the national education issue. In May last year, the Education Bureau published the Moral and National Education Curriculum Guide Consultation Draft. Quite a number of people pointed out after studying the draft that the part about national education placed too much emphasis on emotional attachment, which smacked of brainwashing, and it was highly inappropriate to evaluate students’ performance by observing their display of the required emotions.
However, these very sensitive parts of the consultation draft are left unrevised in the Moral and National Education Curriculum Guide published in April this year. And then the Education Bureau was found to have subsidised the publication of brainwashing teaching materials and drawn up a “Patriotism Evaluation" questionnaire demanding blind patriotism. All this has convinced the public that the government is carrying out a political task.
The government’s political considerations are evident both in the curriculum guide it has produced and in its handling of public opposition, which has developed from individual voices raised in the early days to today’s mass demonstrations. Consequently, a movement started voluntarily by a handful of parents has gradually escalated into a major campaign. The latest development is that the Hong Kong Federation of Students is calling on university students to boycott classes, and a plan is under way for secondary and primary students to follow suit. Such a development is a natural corollary 推論 of the way the government is dealing with the situation.
The government has tried to tone down the feelings of confrontation by expanding the scope of responsibilities of the Committee on the Implementation of Moral and National Education, and declaring that the protesting crowd in “occupation" of the piazza outside the government headquarters will not be dispersed by force. However, these measures are unlikely to change the situation. We are of the opinion that Leung Chun-ying should with resolution withdraw the subject so that further discussions may be held. The reasons are fourfold:
(1) The anti-national education campaign is growing into a citywide movement. Unless the situation is defused immediately, the government will have to pay a high political price, which will do Hong Kong no good.
(2) The public does not trust the government anymore. If in spite of everything the government presses ahead with launching the national education subject, it will find itself engaged in an unending struggle with the people.
(3) There is no urgency in introducing national education as an independent subject. Moreover, since the teaching materials, teaching methods, and monitoring and evaluation work are all highly controversial, and parents, teachers, schools, and society in general are not yet ready, it is imprudent 魯莽的 to have the subject introduced arbitrarily 武斷地.
(4) The Leung Chun-ying government has got off to a very bad start, and must try to win public support through good administration. But now the government is sacrificing administrative work for a matter of no urgency, which not only is ill-advised, but also shows a deplorable irresponsibility 可悲的不負責任. Leung has indicated his intention to run for Chief Executive in 2017, when the Chief Executive is to be elected by universal suffrage for the first time. Will it help him realise his ambition if the national education struggle drags on?
There are those who believe that Leung and his government’s authority will suffer if the national education subject is withdrawn from schools and further discussions are held. We, however, believe that their authority will suffer only if they stick to what is wrong and unacceptable to students’ parents and other members of society. We hope Leung will make the right choice to resolve the national education issue and bring Hong Kong out of this deadlock between the government and the people.
明報社評 2012.09.06﹕撤科回歸教育議題 局面就會豁然開朗
politicisation﹕the process of making something a political issue
arbitrarily﹕in a manner that is not based on any particular plan, system or fair reason
deplorable﹕highly unacceptable, often in a way that shocks people and attracts criticism and reproach