Hong Kong’s universities will be expected to change their curricula to reflect the new national security law by the coming academic year and be prepared to help “prevent and suppress” acts that could violate the legislation, the education minister has said.
Kevin Yeung Yun-hung’s Friday remarks followed a top Beijing official this week highlighting the need for patriotic education for the city’s youth, and Chinese University effectively cutting ties with its student union over national security concerns.
Yeung, who has met the heads of the city’s publicly funded universities since the security law was imposed last June, told lawmakers that universities could consider conducting national security education via courses and seminars.
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“All schools must follow the law. We are currently discussing with [universities] what they have been doing under the legislation, and whether it meets our expectations and requirements,” the secretary for education said at a Legislative Council meeting.
Under the legislation, universities and schools are required to promote national security education. Yeung said universities must also be able to prevent and suppress any violations of national security on campus.
Although institutions would be given some flexibility in adding national security law elements in their syllabus, Yeung said officials were reviewing their plans.
Yeung said he noted that since his meetings with university leadership last year, their management had begun placing a greater emphasis on the importance of being law-abiding.
“I believe when the next academic year begins, we will see [more] changes made to their curricula and relevant arrangements,” he said.
Asked by a lawmaker whether authorities would regulate research topics at tertiary institutions related to the independence of Hong Kong, Taiwan or Tibet, Yeung said only that certain flexibility and autonomy should be allowed, though they must abide by the law.
The Post has contacted all eight publicly funded universities seeking comment.
On Monday, Chinese University’s 12-member student union resigned en masse only hours after taking office, after school management took the unprecedented step of cutting ties with them citing concerns that the newly elected cabinet’s manifesto and other public comments breached the national security law.
The university had imposed a series of tough measures on the union, including asking the cabinet to register as an independent body and assume its own legal responsibility, while stressing it would “not tolerate any behaviours which may endanger national security”.
Also this week, Wang Yang, the head of China’s top political advisory body, said patriotic education should be strengthened among city youth, while Beijing’s top official overseeing the city, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director Xia Baolong, said the education sector had yet to firmly establish its acceptance of the “patriots governing Hong Kong” principle.
Meanwhile, the Education Bureau suggested in a circular that primary and secondary schools should hold activities – such as flag raising and organising talks on safeguarding security – on China’s “National Security Education Day” on April 15.
Guidelines on bringing school curricula in line with the national security law issued last month to kindergartens and schools covered aspects ranging from school management and lesson frameworks to pupils’ behaviour.
Schools were also told to call police over “grave or emergency” situations such as pupils staging protests, forming human chains or displaying separatist slogans on campus.
This article Hong Kong’s public universities should reflect national security law in curricula by new academic year, be ready to ‘suppress’ acts that violate it: education minister first appeared on South China Morning Post