Protests continue in Hong Kong as the new school year begins. Students, teachers, and parents gathered outside the government headquarters to demand removal of the new curriculum. Several protestors have even begun a hunger strike. There were initially three participants in the grueling enterprise. However, that number grew to 11 as others joined in.
“The government ignores our feelings, so we need to use our bodies,” said university student Tak-Wan Chan, who has been on the hunger strike for 87 hours.
The protest started several months earlier when Beijing announced a new education curriculum known as the “Moral and National Education.” Protestors exclaimed that the program was a way for Beijing to “brainwash” students with Chinese Communist views. This is the first year of the “Moral and National Education” program, and it is not expected to be obligatory until 2015. Only about six of 600 primary schools have said that they would introduce the new curriculum to their classrooms. 155 schools would teach it at a later date. 118 announced that they will not be teaching the new curriculum at all.
Chang Ping, a former deputy editor of the Southern Weekend newspaper, wrote in his blog a criticism of the government’s new curriculum. “This round of protests in Hong Kong is of utmost importance. Inside mainland China, the Chinese Communist Party has conducted its program of ‘national education’ for more than 60 years, and the results are apparent to all. Those who have received this education find it difficult to expand their horizons — they are closed-minded and intolerant.” He continues to claim that people in Hong Kong will end up in a similar state of intolerance if the government adopts the program as a national obligation.
However, Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung announced that it was still too early to revoke the curriculum. Instead, he calls for an open-minded attitude towards the program from students. To appease protestors, however, he said that a consular committee will be formed to discuss changes and monitor the new curriculum before introducing any reference materials.
Creative Commons Love: Leung Ching Yau Alex on Flickr.com