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Remarks by SED and Chairperson of Committee on Implementation of Moral and National Education

     Following are the main points of remarks by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng, and the Chairperson of the Committee on the Implementation of Moral and National Education, Ms Anna Wu, at a media session today (August 22):     

Chairperson: I would like to firstly say that we had a preliminary meeting in preparation of future agenda items. Today, unfortunately due to the shortage of time, we were not able to have everybody present at this meeting. There are other people that we are in the course of inviting, so we have not been able to finalise a whole list.  But when we are able to produce the full list, we will make this list open.  

     As regards the operation of the committee itself, we all feel that we need to be extremely open, in terms of the agenda and what we will discuss in future. Therefore, apart from having discussions within the committee, we will also be inviting and contacting other people for their views and opinions. Our terms of reference include looking at difficulties and ways of implementing this particular course in terms of education within the three-year initiation period, but this is a very flexible agenda item and flexible terms of reference therefore would include in an unlimited way what we can discuss.

     Secondly, we are going to review what the Education Bureau will produce as reference education materials. Our views today as expressed included having a multitude of avenues and a multitude of content-based reference for different schools to look at. We understand that some schools have already started teaching this particular course, in terms of ethics study, schools have had that factor in their education system. I feel that it is an issue that the school should maintain autonomy over and continue to have that. I do hope that schools and teachers would be able to communicate with parents and students on what they feel the most appropriate course for each school to take. Because this is within the schools' autonomy, I do have a lot of respect for teachers in their standard and quality of teaching. I do wish to emphasise that some teachers are teaching about contemporary China.

     Thirdly, based on the above we would make recommendations to the Education Bureau in due course, but we do have quite a lot of time to deal with that. We will, of course, factor in differences of view. We hope to convey to you an expression of openness in this particular committee. We had a simple discussion. I am most grateful that the people we had today were very open and very sincere in the way they expressed their views over a variety of items and this will continue.  

     As regards future operation, we will continue to communicate with the press when we finish each meeting. Our members are free to express their own views at any time they wish. We would like to maintain that. Earlier on someone asked about a particular question, that is whether it should be a standard on the subject, whether it can permeate throughout into other courses. The answer is really within the flexibility that we have now, as today schools can take their own decision on how they wish to teach. But I do wish to emphasise that and I do wish to encourage schools and teachers to come up with their own teaching materials, look at the way they should teach within the schools, discuss with parents and students on how they should proceed. Because the main focus in terms of civic education of this type is to encourage independent research, independent thinking and independent decision taking.  

Reporter: One member of the Parents' Concern Group said she is not participating in this group. Is there a danger that the group could be perceived as being one-sided?

Chairperson:  Firstly, as far as I could get from the newspapers as of yesterday there were doubts and skepticism over my capacity as an Executive Councillor, and I would like to clearly clarify that I accepted the chair position in an individual capacity.  The chairmanship of the Mandatory Provident Fund Authority is really for convenience only. There is no reference to my Executive Councillor position. I have also conveyed to the Chief Executive late last night that, as if this item should come up for discussion at the Executive Council, I would excuse myself from that discussion just to be sure, as far as possible, I could independently champion the course of this particular committee. Insofar as views that were expressed not directly in the committee are concerned, I would hope that there are ways and means to discuss various positions and points of view with different parties in the community. We could do so by inviting them to come to our meetings. We could do so by having a meeting anywhere in Hong Kong. There is a multitude of ways engaging people and this is something within our plan. These are issues that we have gone through and these are matters that we have all looked at, and we feel that we could do. It is not limited to this committee. We welcome suggestions coming in. We welcome people participating in a very wide way. We will make approaches to make sure that we stay in touch with different viewpoints.

Secretary for Education: First of all, I am very pleased having the proposed Committee on the Implementation of Moral and National Education in full force, organising and taking place for the first time the preparatory meeting. I am also pleased that Ms Anna Wu is willing to take on this extremely challenging assignment to be the chairperson leading the committee for the next few years. We have 24 members being identified with a very wide participation and representation from different sectors like students, teachers, principals, schools and school sponsoring bodies, professors and experts in curriculum development, and particularly parents.  We really want the 24 members in full force attending our meetings, realising that a few are still considering or publicly said that they would not be joining. We sincerely hope that after they have seen the membership and the terms of reference, as well as the sincerity and the representation of the committee, they will be able to reconsider joining the committee. The chairperson is so supportive and is willing to either meet with these particular few individuals personally or in a committee in a different form. The whole idea, as mentioned by the Chief Executive and the Chief Secretary for Administration when announcing this organisation, is to make sure we have a very wide participation and we are actively pursing and searching for ideas, opinions and wisdom to make sure this implementation would be very smooth and successful, achieving the purpose of this whole programme and subject.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the main points of remarks.)

Ends/Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:55


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