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Worries Grow In Hong Kong As China Pushes Its Official Version Of History In Schools

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Activists protest in Hong Kong in 2012 against legislation to start a “national education” program. Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

rob-schmitz_sq-5ba72a6d118630edb1a1104c2c6680841c022419-s100-c85Rob Schmitz reports: The last time China pressured Hong Kong to scrap its curriculum in favor of one developed by China’s Communist Party-led government, tens of thousands marched through the city chanting, “Down with national education!”

It was the summer of 2012, and the movement to stop Hong Kong’s government from introducing China’s national education into city schools launched the careers of activists like Joshua Wong, who later became an international celebrity for standing up to Beijing. After protesters besieged government headquarters for 10 straight days, officials backed down.

Now the government has returned with a scaled-back plan to change how history is taught in Hong Kong’s secondary schools. Teachers, parents and legislators are worried about the changes.

 

The new proposed curriculum for city schools is missing key parts of modern Chinese history, like Hong Kong’s 1967 pro-Communist riots against British rulersand the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, when Chinese troops killed hundreds of unarmed pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing.

“These are crucial parts of history being taken out,” says secondary school history teacher Cheung Siu-Chung. “Teachers are asking what the rationale is behind this, and our own deputy secretary of education said these parts of history are trivial and aren’t even worth mentioning. She literally said that.”

The new proposed history curriculum for Hong Kong would go into effect in two years. It would require Hong Kong schools to spend more time teaching students about China’s modern history — from the Communist revolution in 1949 through its transformation to an authoritarian, capitalist powerhouse today.

The proposed curriculum carefully removes or skims over events deemed sensitive by China’s Communist Party, like Mao Zedong’s failed political campaigns that left tens of millions dead, as well as uprisings like Tiananmen, leaving it to teachers to decide whether they’ll have time to teach these events … (read more)

Source: NPR

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