Commentary: Hong Kong schools urgently need to correct deviation in history education


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HONG KONG, May 2 (Xinhua) -- With the recent report of a teacher falsifying historical facts and giving incorrect information to pupils, the problem of history education in Hong Kong schools rings alarm bells once again.

A teacher of a primary school in Hong Kong was recently found deliberately lecturing a class during an online lesson that the Opium War, a war of aggression by Britain against China in 1840, was started as a British attempt to ban opium in China.

In fact, the 1840 Opium War was started by Britain after its smuggling of opium into China was obstructed because of the anti-opium campaign launched by the government of the Qing Dynasty. China, very weak at that time, was defeated by the British aggressors and forced to sign the Treaty of Nanking, which forced China to cede Hong Kong Island to the British.

The Hong Kong school's history "education" is not only a blatant distortion of history, but also extremely irresponsible for Hong Kong's future.

History education in some Hong Kong schools is notorious for continued deviations and distortions of facts. On the Opium War, for example, remarks whitewashing Western aggression emerged repeatedly among educators.

The problematic history education can be traced back to the remnants of colonial historical views and the intervention of extreme political thoughts that made some teachers ignore the basic principles of learning and teaching, openly twist truth and facts in class, and publicly endorse Western crimes without any due respect to the motherland and the nation.

More seriously, the distorted history education leaves an immeasurable negative impact on the young generations of Hong Kong.

National education has long been absent in Hong Kong, and the subject of Chinese history was once abolished as a compulsory course in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, various so-called "liberal studies" even deliberately mislead many students and leave schools unguarded against the toxic and extreme ideas of so-called "Hong Kong independence."

It is conceivable that young people immersed in such a deformed context will have difficulty correctly understanding history, not to mention national consciousness.

During the months-long unrest in Hong Kong last year, which was triggered by now-withdrawn ordinance amendments concerning the transfer of fugitives, the wide participation of young people in violent and criminal activities was stunning. About 40 percent of the nearly 8,000 people arrested for offenses related to the unrest from June 2019 to February this year were students.

School education can hardly absolve itself from the high proportion of students involved in law-breaking activities. With classrooms increasingly politicized, a large number of young students have been led astray, which is a great loss not only to the students themselves but also to the future of the entire Hong Kong society.

Actions must be taken to reverse the situation. The school involved has apologized and promised rectification, and the Education Bureau of the HKSAR government is also investigating the incident.

It is never too late to do the right thing. Relevant departments in Hong Kong should take heed, and thoroughly overhaul the current history education, so as to ensure that knowledge is passed on to students without being distorted, and patriotism is promoted among Hong Kong's next generation with concrete steps.