HK education failing its youth
That a 12-year-old boy was among the 36 detained for an attack on police officers in Hong Kong on Sunday has drawn much attention. And he is only one of the many juveniles that have been involved in the unrest and rioting that have plagued the special administrative region over the past two months.
The involvement of so many adolescents born after Hong Kong's return to its motherland in 1997 raises a serious question that concerns the future of the city more than the social turbulence itself－what's wrong with Hong Kong's education system?
A glimpse of the primary and middle school textbooks of the SAR shows how "special" it is－hard-line dissidents, who are among the authors, editors and compilers of some of the textbooks, have filled them with their personal political views.
These authors feel no qualms about putting distorting spectacles on the noses of students. Torrents of words beautify Western civilization and Hong Kong's colonial history, while demonizing the Chinese mainland. They never mention that the West's rise was on the backs of peoples subjugated by force of arms, or what the mainland has accomplished in its transformation from imperialism and feudalism.
Some liberal education textbooks openly distort the "one country, two systems" policy, and incite students to insurrection. In this way, these authors betray the purpose of education, which is to help young people to know about the world, and cultivate their critical and independent thinking.
That such kind of liberal education has been compulsory since 2009 explains why young people in the SAR are vulnerable to secessionist and radical ideas, and can so easily be led astray. No textbooks are perfect, as by their very nature they have to condense and simplify, but they should not be condoning or encouraging lawbreaking behavior.
One of the functions of an education system is to teach young people to be good citizens, the Hong Kong education system is failing in that purpose, as young people are unquestioningly challenging the government and the law, without any regard for the future.
Before waving the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack in their protests on Chinese soil, Hong Kong youths would do better to first learn how to use their own eyes to see the world and their own minds to understand it. Until there are some substantial changes in Hong Kong's education, its youth won't be able to appreciate their true identity.