Global citizenship education and Hong Kong’s secondary school curriculum guidelines: From learning about rights and understanding responsibility to challenging inequality

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Purpose–The purpose of this paper is to analyse the major development of global citizenship education (GCE) as part of Hong Kong’s secondary school curriculum guidelines, which reveals how it has developed from, first, asking students to understand their responsibilities as citizens to now challenging injustice and inequality in the world. Hong Kong’s curriculum guidelines started to teach GCE as a result of the last civic education guideline issued just before the return of sovereignty to China in 1997. Through documentary analysis, this paper examines how GCE has developed against the backdrop of globalization in Hong Kong’s various secondary school curriculum guidelines. Design/methodology/approach–This study used documentary analysis to examine the developments in the teaching of GCE via Hong Kong’s official secondary school curriculum guidelines. It has studied the aims, knowledge and concepts that are related to GCE by coding the GCE literature and categorizing the findings from the curriculum guidelines. Findings–From the coding and categorizing processes employed, it has been found that GCE in Hong Kong’s official curriculum guidelines has evolved from learning about rights and responsibilities in the 1990s to challenging injustice, discrimination, exclusion and inequality since the late 1990s. Indeed, understanding the world and especially globalization, in terms of comprehending the processes and phenomena through which people around the globe become more connected, has presented challenges for the teaching of civic education. For example, categories of GCE have developed from the simpler expression of concerns about the world to encompass moral obligations and taking action. Similarly, the concerns for the maintenance of peace that were studied initially have since grown and now include work about challenging inequalities and taking action on human rights violations. Originality/value –This study would have implications for the understanding of GCE in Hong Kong as well as other fast-changing societies in this age of globalization, as civic education curricula need to respond to the impacts of globalization. GCE is an under-researched area, but topics concerning world/international/global affairs have been covered in Hong Kong secondary school curriculum guidelines for several decades. Copyright © 2015 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-247
JournalAsian Education and Development Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


secondary school
Hong Kong
rights and responsibilities
human rights violation
education curriculum


Chong, E. K. M. (2015). Global citizenship education and Hong Kong’s secondary school curriculum guidelines: From learning about rights and understanding responsibility to challenging inequality. Asian Education and Development Studies, 4(2), 221-247.


  • Curriculum guidelines
  • Documentary analysis
  • Global citizenship education
  • Hong Kong secondary schools