HKAHSS is deeply concerned about the controversy over the implementation of the Moral and National Education (MNE) curriculum and would like to express our views again in order to widen the discussions and resolve some of the tangles. Below are our suggestions:
- Allow schools to implement a diversified MNE
Introducing an independent MNE subject is only one of the ways to promote MNE. If the Education Bureau (EDB) can shelf the idea of an independent MNE subject and allow schools to develop a school-based MNE curriculum with reference to the goals set out in the MNE Curriculum Guide (the Curriculum Guide), the philosophies of their school sponsoring bodies and the needs of the students, the doubts of society and the worries of our educators will be eased. The government should give schools the autonomy to decide whether to treat MNE as a single formal subject or a cross-subject programme with or without assessment.
- Respond to public opinion and improve the curriculum
The real dispute facing us now is not whether we should have MNE, but the design and the assessment methods of the proposed MNE curriculum, especially the part relating to national education. The new Curriculum Guide covers five aspects progressively: individual, family, community, country and the world. The coverage is wide enough but the information involved is too much and in lack of focus. There is simply not enough time for teachers to cover all these areas through diversified and interactive learning activities. Further, there are lots of repetitions between the MNE subject and other subjects such as General Studies, Chinese History, History, Life and Society and Liberal Studies.
The proportion of moral education to national education in the Curriculum Guide is reasonable. But the part on national education puts too much stress on affective education, easily giving people the impression of brainwashing.
Another criticism is on the assessment methods which also emphasize the affective dimension. We are worried that students may fake their emotions to get a higher mark or they may misplace their emotions without being aware of it.
We suggest the EDB improve its communication with the affected sectors to get a better understanding of their concerns. Under the present circumstances, the way forward is to treat ethical and value education as the core of the MNE curriculum and adopt the commonly recognized core values of Hong Kong into its framework.
- Set up a library of teaching materials for MNE sensitive topics
The trigger for the disputes on MNE is how the EDB will treat the teaching materials for sensitive topics such the June Fourth Incident, Zhao Lianhai and Li Wangyang cases as well as the Diaoyutai Island events. Some people worried that schools, restricted by the curriculum, may spoon feed ideas to students, and thus preventing them from exercising their independent and critical thinking. We suggest the EDB collate information on sensitive social, economic, cultural and political issues to form a library and produce sample teaching materials with clear teaching instructions. The library should be open to teachers and the public. This will dispel people’s concern over brainwashing and reduce teachers’ pressure and worries to a large extent.
- Look after the needs of non-Chinese students
The target of the Curriculum Guide is mainstream Chinese secondary and primary school students. Some people asked how the proposed curriculum would cater for the needs of the minority students. The EDB has yet to give a satisfactory response to this query. The question reflects the need to review and adjust the Curriculum Guide to encompass the needs of the non-Chinese students. If the EDB can give up the premise of an independent MNE subject, then schools may deal with the matter according to their situation and the learning needs of their non-Chinese students.
We are really concerned that the disputes will jeopardize the professional image of our teachers and principals, aggravate frontline educators’ reluctance to be involved in MNE, intensify the conflicts and divisiveness among different stakeholders in schools, hamper the quality of our education and affect the healthy growth and development of our students. For the benefits of our students and society, we sincerely hope that the EDB will listen carefully to the opinions of different sectors and review the goals, contents and assessment methods of the MNE curriculum with an objective, open, professional and realistic attitude.