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Transcript of remarks by CE at press conference (with video)

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at a press conference joined by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng, and the Chairperson of the Committee on the Implementation of Moral and National Education, Ms Anna Wu, in the Auditorium, Central Government Offices, Tamar, today (September 8):

Reporter: Mr Leung, would you mind just giving a brief English statement on this policy shift, and just give a sense for why you've decided not to withdraw it but just to make it not mandatory in 2015?

Chief Executive: Well, essentially the amendment of this policy means that we're giving the authority to the schools, and this is very much in line with our school-based education policy. The schools are given the authority to decide when and how they would like to introduce, implement, a Moral and National Education. And that's essentially the nub of this announcement.

Reporter: Mr Leung, I have a couple of questions. Do you owe an apology to the people outside for tearing Hong Kong apart? And also, to the Education Secretary, do you stand by your statement that a silent majority still support the curriculum. And also, Ms Wu, since the curriculum will not be implemented now, so what is your job now?

Chief Executive: I took over the Government of Hong Kong about two months ago. The scheduled implementation of the Moral and National Education last week was the result of a 10-year-long gestation period that culminated in the decision of the previous Government more than a year ago. It was actually part of the Policy Address of my predecessor more than a year ago. So the introduction of Moral and National Education, the way that is specified in the policy that my Government and myself inherited, is not something of our making, and as soon as we realised that there are opposing and different views in the community, I myself and my team have very, very quickly dealt with the issue, and I believe that what we have just announced forms the largest common ground amongst the many, many groups of people in Hong Kong who are concerned with this particular aspect of our education.

Chairperson of the Committee on the Implementation of Moral and National Education: There was a question directed to me as to what the committee will do in future. Let me firstly say that I welcome today's announcement. It is a very decisive move, and it is the most inclusive and the most liberal move that I could foresee for this particular issue. It is most inclusive because it includes all schools and provides the opportunity to the schools themselves to decide whether or not to proceed with civic education, moral education or national education. It is up to the schools and that authority is given to the schools and therefore it is the most inclusive and the most liberal way of proceeding. It is also very consistent with academic freedom, and I therefore support this particular move.

     The committee itself was formed for a number of purposes, one of which is to look at the guidelines and the future content, and this is something that we will continue to review. We would hope to invite many participants in the process of reviewing the guidelines and the content in future. I would also personally ask the committee to invite the Government to look at resource allocation for designing of new curriculum material in future, and that type of funding could be made available to different schools, institutions as well as parents, and this is a particular aspect that some parents have requested, that they be given the opportunity to compile teaching material. I would hope to see that materialise.

     There are many other issues including concerns from teachers relating to whether or not this would be an examinable subject and whether or not this would be an assessable subject, and on both of these scores I'd like to have these discussed thoroughly at the committee as well as discussed thoroughly with those who are affected. Teachers in particular would like to review the assessment method.

     So these are all continuing issues. There will be many more that we will look at, and I certainly hope that we can continue the dialogues with the students as well as the parents, the schools, the various governing bodies as well as the teachers themselves.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Saturday, September 8, 2012
Issued at HKT 20:55


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