Hong Kong students to begin compulsory mainland China study tours as early as next school year

Stock photo of Shenzhen. Photo: Pixabay/Charlotte
Stock photo of Shenzhen. Photo: Pixabay/Charlotte

All secondary school students in Hong Kong will be required to go to mainland China for a study tour as early as the next school year, according to a circular sent to schools by the Education Bureau on Thursday.

The bureau said in the notice that schools have to arrange for students to join the study tours that it will organize and fully subsidize once for each student.

It added that it will liaise with mainland authorities in advance so the trips “can be started as soon as possible upon the [easing] of the epidemic situation and resumption of quarantine-free travel.” The next school year begins in September.

“Mainland study tours and the related project learning are important parts of the [citizenship and social development] curriculum, which aim to enable students to gain first-hand understanding of our country and its development, understand and appreciate Chinese culture, and develop their sense of national identity,” the notice read.

In the pilot phase, the bureau said it will provide 21 tour options, which range from two to five days. They include a history and culture-themed trip to Guangzhou and Dongguan and a tour to Shenzhen to study its economic development and cultural conservation efforts.

According to the circular, the Guangzhou and Dongguan cultural trip will include a visit to the Opium War Museum, which will deal with issues such as national security and “the origins of the problems in Hong Kong”, including how it was ceded to Britain due to three unequal treaties.

The controversial subject of citizenship and social development was implemented in Secondary Four curriculums and those after this school year, replacing the compulsory liberal studies subject, which opponents blame for the social unrest in the city in 2019 and 2020 and a lack of patriotism among youth.

But proponents of liberal studies say it encourages critical thinking among students.

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