08/07/2020, 17.05
HONG KONG – CHINA
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Hong Kong Catholic schools must teach about the security law and national values

by Paul Wang

The episcopal delegate for education sends a letter to principals and school supervisors to make young people understand the value of the Chinese flag and anthem, and avoid unilateral politicisations. Many young Catholics in Hong Kong fear school "normalisation”. The diocese notes that the letter is more of a "suggestion" than an imposition. In any event, developing the "national identity" must take place "following the social teaching of the Church".

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The episcopal delegate for education Peter Lau Chiu-yin sent a letter to the principals and supervisors of almost 200 Catholic primary, middle and high schools.

In it, he urges the schools of the Diocese of Hong Kong to help students understand the "national security" law, "respect the national flag" and "the national anthem", as well as “foster the correct values on their national identity”.

At the same time, Mr Lau warned school administrators against “politicisation” and the “unilateral promotion of political messages, positions or views”. For this reason, each school should have a "mechanism" to monitor “teaching materials, assignments, examination papers and books” used in the classroom.

The letter comes a few weeks before the start of the new school year in September and appears to be in line with a similar letter sent by the Education Bureau last month warning against the “politicisation" of students.

For Ingrid Yeung, Hong Kong Permanent Secretary for Education, schools must uphold “national values” as well as stop student political activities. Teachers accused of “rioting” or “arson” should be suspended at once.

Yeung's letter is an obvious consequence of the security law and an attempt to stop democratic protests, which have been taking place for the past year with the participation of many students.

Among the more than 9,000 people arrested (as of June 2020) since the start of the protest movement, about 3,725 are students, 45 per cent from secondary schools.

The diocese explained that the letter is more of a "suggestion" than an imposition. A priest pointed out that the letter explains that "students must be taught a correct understanding of national identity in accordance with the social teaching of the Church".

Nevertheless, many young Catholics in Hong Kong fear school "normalisation”. On social media, one young man wrote: “They do not want to politicise schools, but they require an understanding of the security law. They are the ones bringing politicisation to school.”

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