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LCQ6: Implementation of Basic Law education
     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and a reply by the Under Secretary for Education, Mr Kevin Yeung, in the Legislative Council today (June 21):


     The Education Bureau (EDB) released the updated Secondary Education Curriculum Guide on the 31st of last month. One of the updated emphases therein is to allocate a total of 51 lesson hours for teaching the Basic Law (BL) at junior secondary level, among which 24 lesson hours will come from the curriculum of the Chinese History subject, with the latter accounting for about a quarter of a total of 100 lesson hours in the three-year duration of the curriculum. On the other hand, the EDB is currently conducting the second stage of consultation on the revised curriculum of the Junior Secondary Chinese History subject, and it did not mention during the first stage of consultation that the arrangements for teaching BL would be included in the curriculum. On the contrary, the views received by the EDB during that consultation were that the current curriculum was already over-packed with contents and hence the lesson time was insufficient. Besides, the EDB has, in the module on "fundamental rights and duties of Hong Kong residents" in the latest learning package on "Constitution and the Basic Law" compiled by the EDB, amended the parts about the rights of Hong Kong residents to enjoy the freedom of the person and not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest as prescribed in BL by relegating them to descriptions in a table, alongside with other personal rights. Some members of the education sector have pointed out that this approach may make the contents of the teaching materials biased. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the EDB's justifications and reasons for deciding to allocate 51 lesson hours for teaching BL at junior secondary level, and whether the EDB has consulted the education sector in this regard beforehand; if so, of the organisations consulted and the views received; if not, the reasons for that; the dates of the meetings at which the Ad Hoc Committee under the Curriculum Development Council discussed the number of lesson hours for teaching of BL and the discussion outcome;

(2) whether the EDB has assessed if it has violated the established consultation procedure by making, prior to the completion of the consultation on the revised curriculum of the Junior Secondary Chinese History subject, the decision to allocate 24 lesson hours under the curriculum for teaching BL; and

(3) of the EDB's justifications for making the aforesaid amendment to the learning package on "Constitution and the Basic Law"; whether the EDB has put in place measures to ensure that the teaching materials on BL will not be biased, so as to avoid running contrary to the professional principles of education; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Basic Law is a constitutional document for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). It enshrines the important concepts of "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy, and also prescribes the various systems to be practised in the HKSAR. With the close link between the Basic Law and the daily lives of Hong Kong citizens, it is only natural for students to learn about the Basic Law. Promotion of Basic Law education has been a regular task of the Education Bureau (EDB) and schools. We adopt a multi-pronged approach which integrates a variety of curriculum contents, classroom teaching and student activities to promote students' understanding of the Basic Law in a holistic and co-ordinated manner. Apart from teaching some Articles of the Basic Law or related court cases, we also make special efforts to enhance students' understanding of the importance of the Basic Law as a constitutional document of the HKSAR and the concept of "one country, two systems". Basic Law education is not a new component of the curriculum. It has already been incorporated into the curricula of various subjects, including Life and Society, Chinese History, History and Geography, for students to gain a comprehensive understanding of the concept of "one country, two systems" and the origin and implementation of the Basic Law from the perspectives of history, geography, society and culture, economic relations and political structure. The updated Secondary Education Curriculum Guide (SECG) aims to facilitate schools' continuing implementation of Basic Law education in a more structured and holistic manner by building on their existing foundation. It is not asking for additional lesson hours being put aside in relevant subjects for Basic Law education. Instead, teachers may naturally connect the contents of Basic Law at appropriate junctures when teaching relevant topics/themes. It is not necessary for them to repeat the learning points or teach them separately, not to mention teaching the Articles of the Basic Law. Regarding the question of Hon Leung Yiu-chung, my reply is as follows:

(1)&(2) The Personal, Social and Humanities Education curriculum at junior secondary level includes four subjects, namely Life and Society, Chinese History, History and Geography, which have already covered learning elements related to the Basic Law. The updated SECG further elaborates that lesson hours spent on teaching certain topics/themes in these subjects will be regarded as Basic Law education related lesson hours. This spells out clearly for teachers that topics/concepts related to Basic Law education have already been covered by the curricula of various subjects and that schools are not required to provide an additional 51 hours for teaching the Basic Law on top of the current coverage of the relevant subjects, nor are they required to put in/aside extra hours for teaching the Basic Law in the relevant subjects.

     The lesson hours set out in the SECG basing on the curriculum guides of different subjects, such as Chinese History (about 24 hours), History (about 10 hours), Life and Society (about 15 hours) and Geography (about 2 hours), are examples demonstrating the relationship between various subject contents and the Basic Law and related lesson hours for reference of schools when making their holistic planning.

     Since its promulgation in 1997, the existing Syllabuses for Secondary Schools - Chinese History (Secondary I-III) have been implemented for 20 years. The first stage of consultation for the revision of the junior secondary Chinese History subject curriculum was launched in September 2016. On the whole, teachers generally agreed on the need to revise the junior secondary Chinese History subject curriculum and supported the proposed curriculum framework. On the basis of the document for the first stage of consultation, the EDB will continue to revise the curriculum contents and launch the second stage consultation in due course. Upon completion of the revision, we will adopt the lesson hours set down by the finalised Chinese History subject curriculum. There is a possibility that fine-tuning of the lesson hours set out in the SECG will be required accordingly.

     The SECG Ad Hoc Committee, comprising principals, teachers and academics from tertiary institutions, was set up by the Curriculum Development Council (CDC) in May 2016 to conduct in-depth discussions on the preparation of the SECG. Besides, the Committee on Personal, Social and Humanities Education, the Ad Hoc Committee for Revising Junior Secondary Chinese History and History Curricula (Secondary 1-3), the Working Group on Revising Junior Secondary History Curriculum (Secondary 1-3) and the Working Group on Revising Junior Secondary Chinese History Curriculum (Secondary 1-3) under the CDC have also discussed and/or endorsed the arrangements on strengthening Basic Law education in the Personal, Social and Humanities Education Key Learning Area.

     After taking into account the professional deliberations of various committees and feedback collected from various channels, the CDC made its final recommendations in respect of the SECG in November 2016. Subsequently, three briefing sessions were conducted by the EDB in January 2017, with over 800 secondary school principals and curriculum leaders attending. Apart from holding briefing sessions, the EDB has also briefed representatives from secondary school councils on the main points of the SECG through the existing regular communication channels. Besides, to further enhance the contents of the SECG, focus group meetings have been conducted to keep collecting views from the sector. Views so collected were submitted to the SECG Ad Hoc Committee for discussion and reported to the CDC. In summary, the SECG and the suggestions contained therein were the fruit of multi-tier and multi-channel consultation of academics.

(3) To support the implementation of Basic Law education, the EDB produced the 15-hour "Constitution and the Basic Law" module to provide alternative teaching materials for schools that do not offer the Life and Society subject at junior secondary level, or schools that offer the subject but not the Basic Law-related modules. It is based on the "Understanding the Law, Access to Justice - Basic Law Learning Package (Junior Secondary)" (first printed in 2011 and reprinted with minor amendments in 2015) prepared by the Curriculum Development Institute of the EDB and the EDB has sought the views of the Department of Justice and the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau on the above module and its teaching and learning resources to ensure that the contents are appropriate and free from bias.

     Unlike the teaching resources for "Constitution and the Basic Law", the "Understanding the Law, Access to Justice – Basic Law Learning Package (Junior Secondary)" is a set of teaching and learning resources. Teachers may adopt such resources in part or in whole together with other adapted teaching materials to fit the particular teaching needs of the curriculum. They may also allocate lesson hours flexibly as they see fit. The teaching resources for "Constitution and the Basic Law" is a set of electronic teaching materials developed for the 15-hour "Constitution and the Basic Law" module. Teachers may adapt the above-mentioned teaching materials or use other teaching materials as they see fit. In a nutshell, the "Understanding the Law, Access to Justice - Basic Law Learning Package (Junior Secondary)" is still applicable and teachers can still use it for reference as necessary.
Ends/Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:38
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