From the NY Times/Reuters about 2-1/2 hours ago:
The Hong Kong government said on Saturday schools did not have to adopt a China-backed curriculum from 2015 in an apparent backdown following protests by tens of thousands of people who described it as an attempt to brainwash students.
The decision comes on the eve of elections in Hong Kong, a former British territory handed back to China in 1997, that will see a legislature expanded from 60 to 70 seats, with just over half of them to be directly elected.
Hong Kong’s embattled new leader Leung Chun-ying called the move on the education plan a “major policy amendment”, saying he had heard and understood the public’s criticism.
The government noted the scheme had not been withdrawn and that schools could introduce it as they saw fit.
“We don’t want the recent controversy to affect the operations of schools, nor do we want to see the harmony of the education environment to be affected (by the scheme),” said Leung.
The SCMP oddly resorts to a wire report from Agence France-Presse for this news. I mean, really? The SCMP can’t cover major stories on weekends itself?
Hong Kong’s government on Saturday 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.
“The schools are given the authority to decide when and 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.
Remember everyone, September 9th is election day here. On one level it’s not that meaningful – because not all seats in the Legislative Council are directly elected. But on another level it’s extremely meaningful – by showing the powers that be that we care about democracy and elections by exercising our right to vote whenever possible.
If you’re eligible to vote in this election then do it!