Missing history in curriculum raises questions

The Education Bureau has left the June Fourth Incident and the 1967 riots out of the new Chinese history curriculum for junior secondary students after promising to increase the proportion of political history.

Phoenix Un

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Education Bureau has left the June Fourth Incident and the 1967 riots out of the new Chinese history curriculum for junior secondary students after promising to increase the proportion of political history.

The ad hoc committee for revising junior Chinese history and history curricula summarized the first-phase consultation and began its one-month second phase yesterday.

The bureau also initially reduced the ratio of political history to 65 percent of teaching hours and increasing cultural history to 25 percent, while Hong Kong history took up the remaining 10 percent.

But more than 70 percent of respondents opposed the change of hours, and the committee chairman, Leung Yuen-sang, said the percentage of political history lessons would be raised to 76 percent while that of cultural history would shrink to 14 percent.

In the new curriculum, Secondary One students will be taught from prehistory to the Tang dynasty, while history from the Five Dynasties to the Qing dynasty will be taught in Secondary Two, and the Republic of China and People's Republic of China will be included in the Secondary Three curriculum.

The curriculum requires the concession of Hong Kong to Britain, drafting of the Basic Law and establishment of the SAR to be included in class lessons.

However, the Tiananmen Square crackdown and the 1967 leftist riots are absent.

Deputy Secretary for Education Hong Chan Tsui-wah said it was just a framework and "trivial matters" are not included.

She said textbook publishers will decide what incidents should be included in the books, and the bureau will have discussions with them beforehand.

"Don't add the political point of view to some incidents into the curriculum because it would make classes too heavy," Hong said.

One new facet of the revised curriculum is Hong Kong history and the interaction between the territory and mainland. Committee chairman Leung said the Cultural Revolution, the source of the 1967 riots, is already included in the curriculum.

"The riot is an important event in Hong Kong history but not in Chinese history," Leung said.

Chief curriculum development officer Gloria Chan Pik-wa also downgraded the 1967 riots, saying Sino-Hong Kong interaction is not confined to politics but also economy and people's livelihood.

The new Chinese history curriculum can be implemented as soon as 2020-21, meaning when the subject becomes mandatory next year, students will still be taught under the old curriculum.