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Alternative policy measures for improving citizenship education in Hong Kong

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Despite adjustments to Hong Kong's citizenship education since the 1990s transition period to Chinese sovereignty, survey research and public opinion suggest that citizenship education, as currently practised in Hong Kong, shows considerable continuity with the pre-1997 period and is not achieving intended results in areas such as the development of national identity and active citizenship among students. This article aims to contribute to explanations for such ineffectiveness and to determine whether there are more effective government policy measures which could improve the provision of citizenship education. Specifically, the article explores the question of whether the Hong Kong government should mandate a compulsory, independent subject of citizenship education at the secondary school level. Based on interviews with sixteen education leaders from government bodies, education concern and advocacy groups, teachers' unions, citizenship education-related teachers' associations, student associations, political parties, and academia, it addresses more specific questions about the intended outcomes of citizenship education, the role of government in attempting to achieve those outcomes, the strengths and weaknesses of current citizenship education practice, suggested methods for improving upon ineffective practices, and the possibility of (and obstacles to) mandating an independent citizenship education subject. The article concludes that while making citizenship education compulsory would address many concerns about its current ineffectiveness, the independent subject approach would not necessarily help to achieve improved outcomes and would raise other substantial concerns from the education community and society at large.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2010

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  • Citizenship Teaching and Learning is global in scope, exploring issues of social and moral responsibility, community involvement and political literacy. It advances academic and professional understandings within a broad characterisation of education, focussing on a wide range of issues including identity, diversity, equality and social justice within social, moral, political and cultural contexts.
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