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Government's statement on MNE subject

     A Government spokesman yesterday (September 8) said that the Government understood the community's recent concerns over the Moral and National Education (MNE) subject, and clearly knew the stance and worries of people holding different views. After considering various views, the Government decided to amend the policy on the MNE subject.

     Under the amended policy, school-sponsoring bodies and schools could decide on their own whether to implement the MNE subject on the basis of their professional judgement, whether it should be launched as a standalone course and, if they chose to implement the subject, determine the format and timetable for its implementation.  In other words, under the new policy, the so-called "deadline" for implementing the subject in three years did not exist.

     The spokesman stressed that the amended policy underscored the Government's respect for the autonomy of school-sponsoring bodies and schools. If schools decided not to implement the subject, the community should respect their decision. Likewise, schools should be free from interventions if they chose to implement the subject. Hong Kong is a pluralistic society. Neither the Government nor any other person should or could stop these schools from implementing the subject. Accordingly, there was no question of "withdrawing" this subject.

     At the same time, Government spokesman pointed out that as the Government had amended the policy, the curriculum guide for the MNE subject issued by the Education Bureau earlier would be correspondingly amended. The Government understood that only the part of the curriculum guide on national education, which constituted a very small portion of the guide, had aroused concerns.  The Education Bureau would review and make appropriate amendments to the curriculum guide. Out of respect for the autonomy and professional judgement of schools, if they would like to make reference to the existing guide or any other materials that they considered appropriate in preparing their own teaching materials, the Government should not and could not force them to do otherwise.  Accordingly, and given that the Government had already made clear that it was necessary to amend the existing guide, there was no question of "withdrawing" the guide.

     The Government appreciated that the above amendments to the policy and the review of the curriculum guide might give rise to technical problems for school-sponsoring bodies, including the use of resources. To allay concerns over these issues, the Education Bureau would, pursuant to the principles of respecting school autonomy and supporting school decisions, offer suggestions to schools as soon as possible.

     The Government spokesman noted that there were doubts that the Government might further amend the policy at a later stage to impose a certain form of implementation "deadline". The spokesman stressed that the Government had clearly undertaken to uphold the principles of leaving education matters to the education sector, and respecting school autonomy.  The Government would not during its term impose any so-called "deadline" for implementing this subject.

     As regards individual allegations that the Government might exert undue pressure or make use of financial incentive to force schools to implement this subject, the Government spokesman stressed that the implementation of this subject was definitely not a political mission. The Government maintains a high degree of transparency in the allocation of funds to schools and in its communications with them. Hence, all these allegations were totally fictitious and groundless.

Ends/Sunday, September 9, 2012
Issued at HKT 01:10


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