Life and death education in Hong Kong: Case studies of three secondary schools

Hon Chuen LEE

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Between October 2014 and January 2019, 138 university, secondary, and primary students in Hong Kong committed suicide. Studies have revealed an upward trend in this phenomenon. The implementation of life education and life and death education has been suggested as a means for supporting students. In the past, resilience and self-confidence were the main focuses of life education, whereas the importance of life–death-related topics in the exploration of the value and meaning of life was often neglected. Although these topics have been included in some schools’ life education curriculums, few studies have evaluated their effectiveness. Crucial questions for investigation include the following: What school philosophy resulted in the inclusion of life–death-related topics in life education and/or life and death education? What considerations did schools have during implementation and how did it proceed? What were the problems they encountered? How did schools overcome the problems? What would be their future direction?

This research involved case studies of 3 secondary schools in Hong Kong which have included life–death-related topics in their life education and/or life and death education curriculums. Through focus interviews, and document reviews, the implementing life–death-related topics in life education and/or life and death education in Hong Kong and three secondary schools was clarified. The difficulties, needs, and attempts to address the problems during the implementation were also explored. The researcher hopes that the current findings provide valuable information regarding the development and implementation of life and death education in Hong Kong and help guide future improvements.

This study revealed that the people involved in life education and/or life and death education curriculum development play a crucial role. The teachers in charge of life education are responsible for determining the themes, designing the curriculum, and teaching in school. Their recognition and feelings towards death-related topics directly affect theme selection and teaching. However, many of the teachers involved in these programmes lack relevant training, which affects the selection of themes and setting of teaching objectives. Because of limitations in matters such as teacher training, teaching hours, manpower, and resources, life education and/or life and death education runs the risk of becoming synonymous with moral, civic, and national education, values education, or religious education, with a focus on students’ life growth and resilience without a deeper exploration of life–death-related topics. Teachers’ perception of students’ needs replaces the students’ real needs, which should be the central focus when designing any curriculum. This misplaced focus results in classes that simply emphasise life planning for students’ future.

The current researcher proposes that life and death education, which includes life–death-related topics, need not necessarily be established as an official subject by the Hong Kong Education Bureau (EDB). Instead, if a partnership with schools to coordinate, organise, and integrate research and professional efforts can be formed, it can help establish a network for resource sharing and support, enabling the collection of expertise and resources to offer relevant support according to the needs of each school. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • WU, Siu Wai 胡少偉, Supervisor
  • WONG, Ping Ho, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Life education
  • Life and death education
  • Hong Kong secondary schools
  • Student needs
  • Curriculum implementation
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2021.


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