Hong Kong scraps China's plan
Hong Kong's government yesterday backed down on a plan to force school children to take Chinese patriotism classes, after weeks of protests and on the eve of crucial legislative polls.
"The amendment of this policy means that we are giving the authority to the schools," the city's leader, Leung Chun-ying, told reporters a day after activists said more than 100,000 protesters rallied at government headquarters.
“Now the schools will decide how they would like to introduce the moral and national education," he added, blaming the mandatory nature of the policy on his predecessor's government.
The proposal to introduce mandatory "national education" classes in all schools from 2016 was condemned as brainwashing by students and teachers, and sparked weeks of protests that brought scores of thousands onto the streets.
The government said the subject was important to foster a sense of national belonging and identity, amid rising anti-Beijing sentiment in the semi-autonomous southern city of seven million people.
Schools were meant to adopt the subject voluntarily this year but many said they wanted more guidance from the government about how it should be taught.