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Groups condemn 'brainwashing' textbook

Protesters come out in force against 'distorted course on nationalism'

Protesters gather at the Hong Kong Government headquarters Protesters gather at the Hong Kong Government headquarters
  • ucanews.com reporter, Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong
  • July 31, 2012
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An estimated 90,000 people took to the streets on Sunday to condemn a textbook for a proposed national education course which they say is an attempt by Beijing to brainwash Hong Kong’s next generation.

The rally, organized by a coalition of educator, parent, student and Christian groups, singled out the China Model—National Conditions Teaching Handbook, a government-produced text which they say sings the praises of the “progressive, united and selfless” Communist Party, while omitting the dark periods of China’s development.

One parent, Teresa Siu, said the book does not tell the whole story and only mentions the positive achievements of the country.

“If schools teach these contents, our children may think this is the whole truth,” she said.

Referring to the course in general another mother, from the National Education Parent Concern Group, said it was ridiculous to ask teachers to grade a students’ overall sentiment on nationalism.

“Will he or she be failed for shedding only two drops of tears when hearing the national anthem, get a pass for three drops or an A grade for four?” she asked.

Responding to the protest, Carrie Lam, the Chief Secretary of Hong Kong, said the government will set up a commission to review the course which is due to begin this September.

But opponents are demanding its immediate suspension. The rally organizers threatened to stage students’ strikes if the government insists on introducing it.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, retired bishop of Hong Kong, has also voiced concern. He said on Saturday that the Education Bureau’s guidelines for national education are not comprehensive or balanced enough.

He warned that it was nationalist education in Germany and Japan that led to World War Two as well as encouraging young people to become Red Guards during China’s repressive Cultural Revolution (1966-76).

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