Sunday, 14 August 2016

Pro-Independence Has Younger Activists

Students who gathered at an earlier event advocating independence
Talk of separatism isn't only on university and college campuses in Hong Kong -- it's spread to secondary schools too.

There were reports earlier this week that said students from at least 14 schools had set up "localist" concern groups, which led to the Education Bureau declaring such groups were banned on campuses.

One group called "Studentlocalism" has at least 60 members, and its mission is to get the city prepared for when the time came for self-determination -- 2047 perhaps?

"In the coming days, Studentlocalism will continue to increase [the number of] its street booths to promote independence," the group wrote on its Facebook page.

"We have also started contacting different secondary student unions which support independence to foster more cooperation."

Students who had protested for democracy back in 2014
It seems the group is intent on getting things moving in earnest when the school year begins next month, and some unions from such schools as Wah Yan College on Hong Kong Island and Ying Wa College are taking part.

A spokesman for the Education Bureau has said there shouldn't be any pro-independence activities in schools and that any organization that promotes pro-independence must be banned.

Professor Lau Siu-kai, vice-chairman of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, said to counter the rise of pro-independence sentiment, opinion leaders, teachers and respected educators, such as university presidents, should express their views.

"The government should also try to improve the social atmosphere by being more inclusive and creating more dialogue," he said.

But the latest is that the Academy of School Managers sent a stern warning to teachers today, saying that their registered teachers' professional qualifications could be cancelled or be rejected for qualification if they advocate independence in schools.

"Some people, including those who work in education or are key persons at educational bodies, have openly advocated or even begun to organize groups on campus... encouraging Hong Kong's separation from mainland China," the statement read, without naming anyone in particular.

The group said it was "firmly opposed" to such "violation of educational ethics", which it described as a breach of the Education Ordinance and the Basic Law.

While it is understandable teachers should not impose their political views on students, what is wrong with a discussion in the classroom to clear up misconceptions or to explain that independence goes against the Basic Law?

It sounds like this could be the beginning of a Cultural Revolution-esque atmosphere in terms of fellow teachers and students ratting out other teachers.

And if students want to discuss these issues on their own, who can stop them? The more restrictions that are put on them, the more determined they will be to make their gatherings and activities a priority.

This knee-jerk reaction by the education authorities is not the best way forward on this polarizing issue, but probably came from above to nip the problem in the bud so to speak.

So they hope...

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