Fears grow China is tightening its grip further by making students learn the National Security Law
Students watch a flag-raising ceremony ahead of the National Day of the People’s Republic of China at a school in the Yuen Long district of Hong Kong on Sept. 30, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
A pro-Beijing Christian college in Hong Kong has decided to roll out a compulsory course in line with the National Security Law, sparking unease among students, teachers, and other educational institutions.
Gratia Christian College, a Protestant-run institute specializing in theology courses for pastors, announced it will begin a National Security Education course starting from September.
The compulsory course is part of the National Security Law imposed by Beijing in June 2020 and mandates that schools and universities promote National Security Education.
“Whether we are studying Christian ministry or other courses when we go out to serve in society, the most fundamental thing is to abide by the law,” said Chui Hong-Sheung, the president of the college, reported Christian Times.
“Gratia teaches students according to the truth of the Bible,” said Chui who takes a pro-Beijing stance on the implementation of the course. “As citizens, we should act by the laws of the government. This is a fundamental biblical truth,” he added.
National Security Education rolled out by China on April 15, 2020, aims at, “raising public awareness on national security and creating a positive atmosphere of safeguarding national security,” among other targets.
"It has triggered fear among religious groups about the future of their education institutes"
The former British colony has been reeling from a political crisis ever since China’s communist regime imposed the National Security Law to crush dissent following huge pro-democracy protests that began in 2019.
Dozens of pro-democracy politicians, activists and supporters have been arrested and jailed under the law, while independent media have been nearly wiped out.
Many of the pro-democracy protesters were young students from colleges and universities including those run by churches.
In an effort to bring the city’s influential, largely independent education institutes under rigorous state oversight, the authorities have sought to overhaul the education system with the National Security Education Policy.
The National Security Law stipulates that all students must be educated on the law.
It has triggered fear among religious groups about the future of their education institutes that hitherto enjoyed administrative and academic freedom guaranteed in Hong Kong Basic Law, dubbed the mini-constitution, since the British handover in 1997.
"Hong Kong’s schools and colleges have been reportedly witnessing a mass exodus of students"
Christian leaders have expressed concern that many of their schools are associated with parishes, and so, if the schools fail to comply with the National Security Law, the parishes and schools might be forcibly shut down.
Media reports suggest schools in Hong Kong have begun withdrawing books that are deemed against the policies of the Chinese Communist Party.
Three secondary schools removed more than 400 books last June, with one school alone removing 204 books, the Chinese-language Ming Pao newspaper reported. Among the purged books are those on topics such as the 2019 protests and the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.
The observer termed the national security education scheme as very "vague" about its implementation and requirements with many educators asking for more practical teaching resources such as textbooks and videos.
Amid this, Hong Kong’s schools and colleges have been reportedly witnessing a mass exodus of students since the imposition of the draconian National Security Law.
Data from Hong Kong’s Education Bureau showed that a total of 30,515 students had left schools from October 2020 to September 2021, reported University World News. The number of school students dropped from about 810,000 to 780,000 and about 15,000 students left secondary schools.
"Parents in Hong Kong have also expressed concerns over the departure of teachers"
Hong Kong’s universities have launched scholarship campaigns in a bid to retain and attract more students.
Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has set aside HK$19 million (US$2.4 million) which is 40% more than in 2021, offering scholarship amounts on a sliding scale, depending on the number of distinctions achieved.
The number of Hong Kong students in British private schools has increased from 13 percent to 25 percent, University World News reported.
Parents in Hong Kong have also expressed concerns over the departure of teachers.
“Although my daughter is in a good secondary, we see both teachers and students leaving in the middle of the school year. It has made me think we should also make plans,” said one unnamed parent.
Hong Kong’s Education Bureau reported in May that at least 4,050 teachers have left jobs in the current academic year — about a 70% increase on the 2,380 who quit the year before.
The Church in Asia needs objective and independent journalism to speak the truth about the Church and the state.
With a network of professionally qualified journalists and editors across Asia, UCA News is just about meeting that need. But professionalism does not come cheap. We depend on you, our readers, to help maintain our independence and seek that truth.
Share your comments
In a land area of 3,739 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the entire civil Province of Surigao del Norte
In a land area of 9,262 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers two entire civil provinces of Long An and Tien
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Meixian/Kayíng/Meizhou is a diocese of the Catholic
Asian Catholics who wish to learn about persecution and martyrdom of Japanese Catholics for faith...
Vietnam’s Tac Say Cathedral is a telltale example of how Catholicism thrived in many parts of...
Asian Catholics who cannot visit Padua in Italy to honor the miraculous Portuguese Saint Anthony...