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LCQ1: Liberal Studies teaching and learning resources

     Following is a question by the Hon Starry Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, in the Legislative Council today (May 8):


     The contents of Liberal Studies (LS) curriculum include the theme of "rule of law and socio-political participation", which aims to encourage students to discuss Hong Kong people's participation in socio-political affairs. An organisation which supports in principle the "Occupy Central" Campaign has recently compiled a teaching kit for use by LS teachers for explaining the Campaign to their students. However, it has been reported that only one page of the 39-page teaching kit, which is less than 3% of the total volume of the kit, contains materials that lead students to discuss different views. Some teachers have pointed out that the teaching kit shows an obvious political orientation, and it lacks elements of diversification and critical thinking which should be included in LS teaching materials. On the other hand, under section 98(2) of the Education Regulations (Cap. 279 sub. leg. A), the Permanent Secretary of the Education Bureau may give directions in writing or other guidance to the management authority of any school as to the dissemination of information or expression of opinion of a political nature in that school, so as to ensure that the information or opinion is unbiased. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has assessed if the aforesaid teaching kit meets the requirement of the Curriculum and Assessment Guide for Liberal Studies, which is recommended for use by the Education Bureau, i.e. "helping each student to respect pluralism of cultures and views, and be a critical, reflective and independent thinker", and hence is not biased political information; if the assessment results are in the negative, whether the authorities have given any directions in writing or other guidance to the management authority of schools on the use of the teaching kit;

(b) whether any measures are in place to prevent teaching materials with obvious political orientations from becoming promotional materials for advancing political movements in schools; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) whether it has given any guidance or formulated any measures according to the aforesaid provision to ensure that students will not be influenced by biased political propaganda in LS lessons; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     Our reply to the Member's question is as follows:

(a) The Education Bureau (EDB) has provided guidelines for schools and teachers in the context of the Notes on Selection of Textbooks and Learning Materials for Use in Schools, the Liberal Studies (LS) curriculum documents and teacher training programmes, in which they are reminded of the importance to exercise professionalism in selecting teaching and learning resources, having regard to curriculum objectives and in the interests of student learning. Moreover, teachers should give guidance to students so that they are able to scrupulously assess the phenomena and messages contained in the information, distinguish facts from opinions, and then put forward arguments underpinned by concrete evidence and relevant information, while not falling into the trap of ignorance and bias. We believe that schools and their teaching force will continue to display professionalism and make use of their professional knowledge as well as the learning and teaching resources selected in light of the curriculum objectives and teaching goals to instil in our students a respect for different viewpoints and to develop their ability to think independently from multiple perspectives.

(b) Under the Education Regulations, provisions governing the nature of school activities are in place for school observation. The EDB respects the professional autonomy of school sponsoring bodies and schools. In addition, sustained efforts will be made to urge schools to observe the Education Regulations and to promote learning and teaching activities that are beneficial to students through different means. Hong Kong is a pluralistic society that enjoys free flow of information. It is doubtful if reference materials compiled by different organisations or groups can be effectively vetted. We consider it more effective to encourage relevant organisations or professional groups and personnel to discuss issues or prepare their reference materials from different perspectives so as to enrich students' learning in breadth and depth.

(c) In the curriculum documents of LS, there are clear guidelines instructing teachers to provide students with objective analysis from different perspectives when teaching different issues, including those on socio-political affairs. In teacher training programmes, inspections and our other daily contacts with schools for different purposes, we also emphasise that it is important for teachers to provide diversified learning materials to ensure that students will not be influenced by any single perspective or even worse, biased political propaganda, in LS lessons. The LS aims at developing in students' positive values, multi-perspective outlook on different issues and independent thinking, which in turn, help them make balanced and reasonable judgments. The EDB respects the professional judgment of teachers and will continue to remind teachers to provide students with information from pluralistic sources through the effective use of the curriculum documents and teacher training programmes. On the basis of such information, students should be taught to appraise issues from different perspectives based on facts and evidence with the aim of nurturing them into independent thinkers who respect cultural diversity and pluralistic views and are able to make fair and reasonable judgments.

Ends/Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Issued at HKT 13:10


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