Hong Kong’s educators expressed concern on Thursday over secondary students’ participation in political assemblies, warning that it is a troubling development for juveniles still developing their value systems.
Their remarks came as hundreds of secondary students, together with some teachers and parents, rallied at the Edinburgh Place in Central against the now-shelved extradition bill. They expressed a desire to organize strikes on every Monday beginning on Sept 2 — the first day of the 2019-20 academic year.
It’s not reasonable to stage a school boycott with political stance in secondary schools. All members of the secondary education system, including students, teachers and schools, should not bond with any political movement.
principal of Elegantia College and chairman of Education Convergence
Ho Hon-kuen, principal of local secondary school Elegantia College, said the assembly was a one-sided event — not a discussion of different viewpoints.
Ho said the demand that the government release all lawbreakers arrested during protests is “very dangerous” and goes against the city’s longtime core value — the rule of law.
He warned such a rally was harmful to secondary students — the future of the city — as they are still developing their value systems and the ability to think in a comprehensive and diverse manner.
Ho, who is also chairman of a leading education group, Education Convergence, said that it’s not reasonable to stage a school boycott with political stance in secondary schools. All members of the secondary education system, including students, teachers and schools, should not bond with any political movement, he added.
Ho said he hopes event organizers could show some sympathy about the academic pressure on students and teachers.
Wong Kwan-yu, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, echoed Ho’s sentiments, saying secondary students should not be involved in political activities. This is because juveniles are not mentally mature enough to handle and comprehend complicated political issues.
Wong warned that their participation in the assembly posed a warning sign for the education sector and their parents.
These students could be easily incited, Wong said. Peaceful assemblies and strikes are usually the first step for anti-government protesters to incite immature students to make further moves, he cautioned.
But he added that there are some common practices in secondary schools to manage students who are absent from classes. Parents need to submit applications if their children are not able to attend school; the school will review whether the requests are reasonable or not.
On Tuesday, Education Secretary Kevin Yeung Yun-hung reiterated that the Education Bureau is against any type of strike.
Yeung said no one should use schools as places to express their political demands, or attempt to manipulate underage students in order to increase pressure on the government.
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