Chinese history could be made a compulsory subject for Hong Kong senior secondary pupils but no assessment should be required, the head of a major education sector body has suggested.
Ho Hon-kuen, the chairman of Education Convergence, a teachers’ organisation, also recommended that parents pay for their children’s mandatory visit to mainland China instead of the government funding the trips, which are part of the new citizenship and social development syllabus.
“Nowadays, only about 10 per cent of senior secondary school students are studying Chinese history,” Ho said in a television interview on Sunday.
“This has a negative effect on systematic learning, understanding Chinese culture and the national situation through our history, and even national security.”
Ho, a former school principal, said the schools could use the same approach used in physical education classes, where examination was not required as pupils already studied four core subjects.
Chinese history and knowledge of the country have become a concern for the city’s education authorities after the anti-government protests in 2019.
Only pupils in the first to third year of secondary school are required to study Chinese history at present.
Youngsters who want to study the subject further have to pick it as an elective when they start Form Four.
Ho said senior pupils could have two classes a week dedicated to the subject.
“They could choose a ‘historical figure of the year’ for students to do a project on … they can learn a lot of culture and history. This will not need them to learn using assessments – they will be much more free,” he explained.
Ho added the trips to the mainland under the new citizenship and social development core subject should be paid for by parents in the long term, but with funds available for families who could not afford the expense.
“There is a need to spread knowledge … but the amount of money available in everyone’s wallet is different,” he said. “So I think if parents can afford it then they should bear the cost. If there are needy students, we can continue to subsidise them.”
The Education Bureau has 22 options for mainland tours. Eight of them are one-day trips, six are two-day itineraries, and the other eight are three-day tours.
Chief Secretary Eric Chan Kwok-ki, the city’s No 2 official, last Monday estimated that about 40,000 senior secondary pupils would go on similar trips this academic year.
He was speaking as the first group of 250 pupils left for a two-day trip to Guangzhou and Shenzhen in Guangdong province.
The new core subject was introduced to replace liberal studies in 2021, after accusations the curriculum risked the radicalisation of youngsters.
The new syllabus was designed to focus on national security, identity, lawfulness and patriotism.