Editorial: 4 Reasons Why National Education Should Be Withdrawn

【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

德育及國民教育科(下稱國教科)本來是教育議題,但是現在已經演變為政府與反對國教科人士對峙,政治鬥爭意味濃烈。

國教科之政治化,政府是始作俑者。去年5月,教育局發表的國教科課程指引諮詢稿,許多人指出國民教育部分過分強調情意教育,有洗腦之嫌,評估則以學生是否顯露「情感觸動」來衡量,認為甚為不妥。

但是,今年4月,教育局頒布的課程指引,並未調整這些敏感部分;然後教育局被揭發資助「洗腦」教材,教育局也制訂了盲目愛國準則的「愛國評估」問卷,使社會人士認定政府在執行一項政治任務。

政府就國教科,從打造課程指引到應對早期的反對聲音、近期的群衆抗爭,都顯露政治盤算,使個別家長自發的反對行動逐步升級,最新的發展是學聯已經發起大專學生罷課,中小學生罷課也在醞釀。整體事態發展,與政府的處理有密切關係。

政府擴大國教科委員會職能,聲言對「佔領」政府總部廣場的人士不會採取清場行動,有淡化對峙之意,不過,這些做法不足以扭轉大局。我們認為,梁振英應該果斷地撤科再議。主要有4方面理由:

(1)事態正朝向全民運動發展,若現在不緩和局勢,處理就要付出更沉重政治代價,對香港絕無好處。

(2)民間對政府已經失去信任,若政府一意孤行,強制推動國教科,官民只會陷入無休止的鬥爭之中。

(3)推動國教科並非當務之急,况且由課程指引到教材、教學方法、監督以至評估等,都極具爭議,由家長、教師、學校以至整體社會都未準備好,強推只是胡來。

(4)梁振英政府開局焦頭爛額,要拿出政績爭取市民支持,政府為毫無迫切性的國教科而犧牲施政,不但愚蠢,也是不負責任的做法。梁振英已經表明爭取參與2017年的首次普選特首,若糾纏於國教科鬥爭,對他實現這個宏願,會有幫助嗎?

有意見認為,政府一旦撤科再議,會損害梁振英和政府的威信。我們認為梁振英和政府堅持錯誤的、家長和社會不接受的國教科,才會損害他們的威信。期望他正確抉擇,為國教科和為香港解套。

Glossary

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

聲檔 english.mingpao.com/critic.htm

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