Socializing secondary students to be active and participatory citizens

Shun Wing NG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


In the era of colonial rule, citizenship education was characterized by depoliticization in which the British government did not allow teachers to do any form of political teaching in schools before the 1990s and there was a lack of any democratic values and critical thinking skills in the content of civic education or social studies curriculum. After the sovereignty was returned to China in 1997, Civic Education in Hong Kong has still been criticized as being apolitical in nature. The intention of developing students with the ideology of participatory democracy and active citizens has been minimised while patriotic and national education has been put in top priority in the curriculum reform since 2001. Interestingly, a few secondary students took initiatives to participate in the mass demonstrations on 1st July and in the candle nights of memorizing the victims in the Tiananmen Square Incident on 4th June every year. The aim of this article is to report a study of how some young people have become active and participatory citizens in an apolitical educational context of Hong Kong. The interpretive methodological approach for collecting and analyzing data was employed in this qualitative study. Based on data collected from focus group and individual interviews with secondary school students and civic education teachers respectively, this article explores how students are socialized to be active and participatory citizens. The results show that students experience primary socialization in schools where civic education teachers having critical mindsets and deep beliefs in pursuing social justice will help catalyze their political socialization process during which the students gradually develop within themselves the passion of civic consciousness and the competence of civic courage. These are the necessary qualities that help facilitate youngsters to participate in social services, social and political gatherings and demonstrations. It is also found that other secondary socializing agents such as peers, NGOs, family members and members of the church are playing an important role to help young people construct the notion of active citizenship and embark on the road towards active and participatory citizens.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009


Ng, S. W. (2009, June). Socializing secondary students to be active and participatory citizens. Paper presented at the 5th CITIZED International Conference: Globalising Citizenship Education: Ambitions and Realities, Hong Kong Institute of Education, China.


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