The turmoil about efforts to implement national education in Hong Kong: An overview and analysis

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This paper provides an overview of the considerable turmoil that erupted in Hong Kong following attempts to impose a form of national education in schools. From mid July to September 2012, mass gatherings and street demonstrations occurred in Hong Kong in response to the decision by the government to introduce a compulsory school subject titled Moral and National Education. A teaching kit titled the 'China Model National Conditions Teaching Manuel' prompted a public outcry for its approach to embedding a particular version of national identity and citizenship in the curriculum which was considered by many citizens in Hong Kong to be extremely biased. Parents and students in Hong Kong were alarmed when they discovered that many supporting teaching materials, suggested teaching plans, and even organised visits to the Mainland were biased, aiming only at presenting a positive picture of China to the students. This approach to developing a national identity was regarded by many protestors as not representative of the freedom of opinion and association that citizens in Hong Kong regarded as essential for citizenship and as part of understanding their rights in China under 'One Country, Two Systems'. The introduction of this program led to debates about the nature and purposes of civics and citizenship education and whether efforts to secure a national approach to education are in fact a form of indoctrination. This paper outlines the context for these questions about embedding a form of national identity and citizenship in the curriculum in Hong Kong and discusses the purposes of civic education. It concludes that students should have access to effective civics and citizenship education that allows them to develop their own sense of identity and opinions about their community as 'critical patriots'. Copyright © 2014 Informit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-15
JournalSocial Educator
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


Hong Kong
national identity
freedom of association
freedom of opinion
teaching materials


Ngai, G. S. K., Leung, Y. W., & Yuen, W. W. T. (2014). The turmoil about efforts to implement national education in Hong Kong: An overview and analysis. Social Educator, 32(1), 5-15.


  • National identity
  • Citizenship education
  • Civics
  • Indoctrination
  • Educational policy
  • Required courses