Hong Kong students must learn about national security law, education minister Kevin Yeung says
He said forums would also be arranged to enhance public understanding of the law.
“Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China, and we have the responsibility to protect national security. The city has so far been unable to enact a national security law under Article 23, thus Beijing stepped in,” he said.
The education chief also said the invalidation of a question in the history paper of this year’s university entrance exam was not political interference.
Following an unprecedented request by his bureau, the council of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA), a statutory body, on Thursday agreed to axe the controversial question, which asked candidates whether they agreed Japan “did more good than harm” to China between 1900 and 1945. Students wrote their answers based on two extracts of historical materials and their own knowledge.
He said the bureau would have to review whether some “supervisions” should be carried out at some level before exams in the future.
Asked if more representatives from the bureau should be added in future to the committee that drafted exam questions, Yeung said they needed more time to consider that, while saying the exam authority, as an independent entity, could also choose whom it wanted to add.
Education sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen said he was worried that the bureau would further interfere in the independent role of the exam authorities.
“Does it mean that more people from the bureau would be able to comment on exam questions in future? This would greatly affect the independence and confidentiality of the authority,” he said.
Commenting on imparting education on the national security law, Ip said he was more concerned about whether students would be able to discuss or disagree with the topic.
“It is fine if it’s only the introduction of the law. But we are worried that once the law is enacted, the way of teaching would be affected. We are not sure if students would be allowed to discuss freely on the pros and cons of such a law,” he said.
Currently, HKEAA takes full responsibility for the membership of the moderate committee. The bureau said it had repeatedly requested in the past years to nominate members to join various subject committees, but it was up to the exam authority to decide on it.
According to the Education Bureau, one of its members was nominated to join the history exam committee in 2019, but he was not invited eventually.