Basic Law Education Project


A Project of The Education University of Hong Kong

Supported by the Faculty of Education and Human Development,

the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and the Centre for Governance and Citizenship

Commentary by project staff:

Kennedy, Kerry John. (2018, January 11). Hong Kong schools must teach respect for different views to heal divides in society. South China Morning Post.

Please CLICK HERE for related articles and other media reports


Background & Rationale

The Basic Law, a law of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, plays a fundamental role in the life of Hong Kong people, As Gittings (2013) recently explained:

As the highest law with practical effect in Hong Kong, it sets the framework for Hong Kong’s system of government, how its courts operate, and the rights and freedoms enjoyed by its residents, to name just a few examples.

There have been many calls recently for greater attention to be paid to the Basic Law since   it regulates so much of daily living in Hong Kong.   Understanding its origins, purposes and provisions and the ways it contributes to the rule of law in Hong Kong is important for all citizens.   In particular, however, young people should know and appreciate the legal framework that determines so much of their social and political lives. As future Chinese citizens, the city’s youth need to be aware of what defines their citizenship in legal terms, how they can take on their responsibilities as citizens and how they can make a productive contribution to Hong Kong and the nation.


Given the central role of teachers in supporting the education of the city’s young people, the purposes of the project are to:

  • Prepare educational materials that can support teachers  to understand and appreciate the role of the Basic Law in regulating different aspects of Hong Kong life;
  • Provide professional development activities for teachers and workshops for community members on issues related to teaching about the Basic Law; and
  • Undertake research concerning the impact of Basic Law education on students’ knowledge of and responses to the Basic Law. 


  • An on-line learning system for teachers that will deliver educational resources and materials for access by schools and the community;
  • A series of teacher and community development workshops that will focus on key issues in understanding the Basic Law; and.
  • Reports on students’ knowledge and understanding of the Basic Law generated by a regular assessment programme involving a stratified random sample of Hong Kong schools




Project Director:

Professor Kerry Kennedy


Post-doctoral Fellow:

Dr Victor Ng


Project Advisory Committee:



Teaching Advisory Group:







Domain 1

The Rule of Law    


This would stress that in a society governed by the rule of law it is not individuals or politics that decide what a law means but an independent judiciary. 

Domain 2

The Law in Society (or Rule by Law) 



There is much confusion between the meaning of “rule of law” and “rule by law”. The latter is the how most societies are regulated; the former is about a fair and just administration of laws so that their purpose is not subverted by the opinions of individuals and authorities. 

Domain 3

Historical Contexts for the Basic Law


There are multitudes of original sources, in both English and Chinese, to help students appreciate how Hong Kong emerged from being a British colony to become a Special Administrative Region of China. 

Domain 4

How the Basic Law was  Made


While the main features of the Basic Law came out of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, it is a Chinese law enacted by the National People’s Congress Any analysis of it can use this as the broad context for understanding what the Laws says and perhaps more importantly what it means.

Domain 5

How the Basic Law Can be Changed



Laws are not immutable – they change. Thus students should understand how the Basic Law can be changed, who has the authority to initiate change and what the processes are for seeking agreement on change to the law. Comparisons can be made with Hong Kong’s laws and how the local common law system is different from China’s legal system. Cases can be examined where Hong Kong courts have considered issues related to the Basic Law and how final decisions were made about the Law’s interpretation.