Students in class action on right stuff

Local | Phoenix Un 15 Mar 2019

A few hundred local students are prepared to skip classes today, joining a global movement involving tens of thousands of students from 92 countries to rally against climate change.

They want government to take action to combat environmental deterioration, echoing the voice of their peers around the world who are also striking and marching today in more than 1,200 locations around the world.

The boycott is part of the global movement called #FridaysForFuture first started by Greta Thunberg - the 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist - who encourages young students to skip school and demand a stronger response from the government to combat climate change.

A total of 588 people have expressed their willingness on Facebook to join the strike, and about 1,700 people showed interest in it, as of 6pm yesterday.

The school boycott would be held from 11am to 2pm today, and students participating in the class boycott would gather at Chater Garden in Central.

The Hong Kong action was initiated by two 17-year-old international school students, Zara Campion and Elisa Hirn.

Campion told The Standard that she had been involved in three protests about climate change, but nothing had happened after.

"Because it is a strike, a lot more people have been reacting to it, and if it's not a strike but a normal protest, nobody cares about it, and nothing is going to happen," Campion said, adding that no government officials had told them to give up the strike so far.

She stressed that it was just a strike lasting three hours, from 11am to 2pm, which would not hinder students from learning since they are in school five days a week.

"I think what you will learn by coming to the strike especially for big issues like climate change is lot more important, and it will also allow you to put into practice the things you have learned in school," Campion said.

She also said Hong Kong was a wealthy society and should do more in tackling climate change, "for example using more renewable energy."

The police replied that they were communicating with the organizers, and would consider whether to issue the letter of no objection under the current mechanism.

But the Education Bureau was critical of the strike, saying that any form of a strike would affect discipline at schools and hinder students from learning.

The English Schools Foundation, an organization running more than 20 international schools, replied that they had the responsibility to keep students safe, "we would not be meeting that responsibility if we allowed students to skip school to attend any unsupervised event."

Teddy Tang Chun-keung, chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Heads of Secondary Schools, said non-international school principals had not given notice of their students joining the strike, and said that "the strike might not be well mknown in mainstream schools."

Tang had doubts about the strike, as he believes students could express their concerns about climate change during holidays, "so that students don't need to face the dilemma, whether to go to school or go to the strike but had to take leave from school."

He also believes students of mainstream schools may take leave if they really wanted to go to the strike, "they won't be truant."

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