Politics in history education in Hong Kong: Towards critical political education

Cong Jason LIN, Liz JACKSON

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


The relationship between history education and political education in Asian societies is an underexplored topic. Politics have deeply shaped the development of history education in Hong Kong, as in many other societies around the world. Hong Kong history education reforms have been criticized for providing a new form of national political education. This study examines how politic education can be found in the Hong Kong history curriculum as ‘latent content’. To do so, it provides a qualitative content analysis of all textual data used in ‘Chinese history’ and ‘history’ textbooks in secondary schools in Hong Kong which discuss or portray political content, focusing particularly on the themes of identity shaping and assimilation. Before focusing on the Hong Kong situation, this paper first explores how history education is a political topic in general. Then Hong Kong's complicated political legacy is described in relation to one of the unique features of history education there: the concurrence of two subjects, ‘history’ and ‘Chinese history’. Current debates about the reform of history education in Hong Kong and the limitations of current history education in Hong Kong are examined in the next part, using data from textbooks. Our analysis shows that 1) national identity is prioritized over local identity in the textbooks, and 2) the textbooks mainly reflect a Mainland-based majority perspective and justify assimilation in history, resulting in a lack of recognition of the many different minority groups of Mainland China, of which Hong Kong people may see themselves as part. Based on the analysis, we argue that history education in Hong Kong provides a narrow political education that can impede some crucial education goals in Hong Kong. Copyright © 2019 Japanese Educational Research Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-54
JournalEducational Studies in Japan
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Lin, C., & Jackson, L. (2019). Politics in history education in Hong Kong: Towards critical political education. Educational Studies in Japan, 13, 39-54.


  • Politics
  • Critical political education
  • History education
  • Textbooks
  • Hong Kong


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