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Cardinal deplores education proposal

Proposed subject stems critical thinking, promotes 'wrong' kind of nationalism

Cardinal deplores education proposal
Cardinal Zen (left) and Francis Chan Nai-kwok at the meeting reporter, Hong Kong
Hong Kong

September 27, 2011

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Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun has criticized the Hong Kong government’s plan to introduce Moral and National Education as a compulsory school subject, calling the proposal “boiling frogs in lukewarm water.” “Do they want us to support the Communist Party unconditionally or appreciate the history of its rule without reservation?” he questioned. “Love of our country is not identical to love of the party,” Cardinal Zen noted, warning of extreme danger if the next generation are brought up adhering to an extreme or wrong kind of nationalism. The retired bishop of Hong Kong was speaking to around 300 participants at a seminar on Sunday held for the annual “Catholic Education Day.” He questioned the intention to replace the existing Moral and Civic Education module in all primary schools by September 2012. The diocese has submitted its objection to the proposal, which it says overstresses national identity and may reduce class time for religious education. The Salesian prelate also said the introduction of the new module and a mandatory school-management regulation are related. The Catholic diocese and several Protestant denominations say the controversial regulation will reduce their autonomy in education. The diocese, the largest school-sponsoring body in Hong Kong, has demanded a judicial review of the implementation of the regulation, which took effect on July 1. The Court of Final Appeal will hear the case in early October. Francis Chan Nai-kwok of the diocese’s Catholic Education Office said Hong Kong people have their own ways of showing concern to the motherland. “No one would say Hong Kong people are unpatriotic, unless they define it narrowly,” said mainland-born Chan. He stressed education in Hong Kong should not go the same way as in mainland China. Joshua Wong, a 14-year-old student at the forum, cited the blog of Hao Tiechuan, a liaison official of the Central People’s Government in the Special Administrative Region, on his view of national education: “If it is not to educate students to listen to the central government, can it be called national education?” “This shows explicitly it is a brainwashing curriculum,” said Wong. Related reports: Church says no to revised school subject
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