As the saying goes, it takes 10 years to nurture a tree, but a lifetime to educate a person. Youth development cannot succeed without the care and guidance of the government, schools, families and society. The advocacy for “Hong Kong independence” and “self-determination”, the anti-extradition amendment protests and the violent confrontations in Hong Kong over the past two years have highlighted a shortcoming in Hong Kong’s youth policy.
The Constitution and the Basic Law jointly establish the constitutional order of the HKSAR, as stated clearly in the Policy Address. Getting to the root of the problem from the perspective of political ideals can lay a good foundation for Hong Kong’s future development and set a clear direction for Hong Kong’s youth development.
Fostering national security awareness among young people
Looking back at the past period of time, in order to achieve its political goals, the “mutual destruction faction” had not only put a positive spin on illegal acts, but also used school campuses as a hotbed for perpetuating violent confrontations. We all know that teachers have a profound impact on the overall development of students. If teachers harboring ulterior motives infiltrate politics into school campuses, it is easy for them to instil the ideas of making false statements and discrediting the political regime into the minds of students. I support the efforts set out in the Policy Address to strengthen the pre-job, in-service and pre-promotion training of teachers and principals, while rigorously following up on cases involving incompetent and unethical teachers. However, besides waiting for others to make reports, the Government should proactively monitor the words, deeds and conduct of teachers and remove the black sheep from the field of education.
To implement “one country, two systems” through education, the Government must adopt an in-depth and easy-to-comprehend approach to strengthen education on the Constitution and the Basic Law in Hong Kong so that people of different ages are aware of the relationship between the country’s constitution and Hong Kong. Since reunification, Hong Kong’s primary and secondary schools have faced challenges in Basic Law education. Putting teaching quality aside, just teaching time alone, a survey has found that 30% to 40% of schools have “zero lesson hours” for Basic Law education in the Humanities subject; nearly 80% of schools have less than 15 lesson hours for Chinese History, which is far fewer than the relevant lesson hours stipulated in the Education Bureau’s Secondary Education Curriculum Guide; and nearly 60% of school principals interviewed recognized the need to strengthen the effectiveness of Basic Law education.
In addition, with the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law, schools play an important role in preventing acts that endanger national security. In February, the Education Bureau issued circulars to schools in Hong Kong to provide guidelines on school administration and education in relation to safeguarding national security, as well as details about the mode of implementation and learning and teaching resources for national security education in the school curriculum. The reform also includes the curriculum and assessment of four core subjects at the senior secondary level, covering the widely controversial subject of Liberal Studies. This has set out a correct direction for education on the Basic Law and the Hong Kong National Security Law as well as understanding the country’s development, which will help cultivate students’ ability to discern and think carefully based on objective historical facts and foster their consciousness of the state and awareness of national security to ensure the effective implementation and stable long-term development of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong.
Improving government policies for young people
Besides education, the Government should also do its best in youth development work by improving its policies for addressing young people’s concerns about education, career pursuit and home ownership, and encouraging their participation in politics as well as public policy discussion and debate. In fact, as Hong Kong’s unemployment rate is high, it is harder for young people who have little work experience and exposure to find a job. According to the latest figures from the Census and Statistics Department, between October and December last year, the unemployment rate was 17.6% among young people aged 15-19 years and about 11% among people aged 20-29 years, indicating that young people have entered a “job-search ice age”.
With the rapid development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area), neighboring Shenzhen is now the country’s leader in innovation and technology (I&T) and has no shortage of I&T talents, funds and technology. The Government has rolled out the Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme and the Funding Scheme for Youth Entrepreneurship in the Greater Bay Area, and the Chamber also actively encourages member companies to participate in the relevant schemes. I believe this is definitely good news for young people. However, there are people who want to “stigmatize” the Greater Bay Area, causing some people to have misunderstandings about it. I hope that the Government will engage more with young people to strengthen positive publicity on the Greater Bay Area so that they are aware of the opportunities in this regard, and participate in and learn valuable experiences from it, thus broadening their vision of the country’s development.
Young people need patient guidance and assistance
In addition, with regard to discussing politics, besides gradually increasing the proportion of young people on advisory boards and in statutory organizations through the Member Self-recommendation Scheme for Youth, the Government can also broaden the space for them to express their political opinions through consultations on policies that are relevant to them or work with political parties to organize physical and online dialogues.
“Strong youths make a strong country”. As young people are our future, we must guide and assist them with care and patience to prevent them from going astray. I hope that the Government can put in place a slew of policies that, in my opinion, impart the right values to students while encouraging young people to take the opportunity to benefit from the development of the Greater Bay Area and the country as a whole.
This is a free translation. For the exact meaning of the article, please refer to the Chinese version.
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