Occupy over, Beijing turns to classrooms

Occupy over, Beijing turns to classrooms
Student leader Joshua Wong, who is on the third day of hunger strike, walks past a protest banner which reads "I want real universal suffrage" outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong December 4, 2014.

Hong Kong schools teach 353 years of Chinese history over the course of one year, with less than an hour a week dedicated to the subject.

In particular, the evolution of modern China dating from the 1911 revolution is compressed within a short semester.

This, laments Mr Choi Kwok Kwong, chairman of Education Convergence, a pro-establishment lobby group of educators, is hardly adequate to help students understand their country.

"Some of the students misunderstand China. They get their information through the media and most have never been to the mainland. There were many changes after China opened up in 1978, but in Hong Kong many don't know about them," he says, arguing that more time and resources should be given to the subject.

Less than a month after the end of the 79-day Occupy movement, the first hints of Beijing's attempted tightening of the screws on Hong Kong are manifesting themselves - and the first target appears to be the city's classrooms, accused of an alleged failure to inculcate "nationalism" in young Hong Kongers.

A former senior mainland official last week said Hong Kong's education minister should be under Beijing's supervision at all times, adding that the education system is to blame for Hong Kong youth's "lack of national identity".

Speaking in Beijing, Mr Chen Zuoer, former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said: "How did the youth, who were just babies during the handover, become those on the (Occupy movement) frontline, storming our military camps and government buildings while waving the Union Jack?

"It is clear there are problems with the development of Hong Kong's education."

The country's "national interest" must be considered when the city formulates its education policy, he added.

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