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Challenges to Implementing an Independent Subject of Moral and National Education for Hong Kong Schools


In the recent 2010-2011 Policy Address, Chief Executive Donald Tsang announced that the Education Bureau and Curriculum Development Council would be working in the coming years to develop an independent subject of moral and national education for Hong Kong’s primary and secondary schools, to be implemented from 2013-14. This seminar will present the results of a series of recent qualitative and quantitative research projects focusing on the very issue of the implications of a move from Hong Kong’s current cross-disciplinary approach to citizenship education to an independent subject. It will address three challenges that will need to be met: First, the challenge of changing the mindset of sectors of the public who would view an independent subject as a form of indoctrination. Second, the challenge of overcoming significant questions and concerns among the education community as to the potential effectiveness and resource implications of an independent subject. Third, the challenge of ensuring that the move to an independent subject would enhance student learning outcomes in the face of cross-national research showing little difference in civic knowledge, knowledge of democracy, and patriotism among students in countries using different curricular approaches to citizenship education curriculum delivery.


Gregory P. Fairbrother is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences, and Associate Dean (Research & Postgraduate Studies) of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, at The Hong Kong Institute of Education. He has taught at the secondary and tertiary level in Hong Kong, Changchun, and Nanjing, China, and served for five years as Student Advisor and Associate Director of the Hong Kong office of the New York-based Institute of International Education. His doctoral dissertation, which examined the relationship between patriotism and critical thinking among Hong Kong and Mainland Chinese university students, was awarded the University of Hong Kong's Li Ka Shing Prize.