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Thursday, September 1, 2016, 12:32

Localists warned as students head back to school

By Willa Wu
Localists warned as students head back to school

HONG KONG - Schools will consider turning to higher authority, even the police, to prevent the circulation of flyers advocating Hong Kong independence, if the activity leads to  deterioration of order or disrupts  studies Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim warned on Thursday.

Ng, on a visit to Tin Shui Wai Methodist Primary School, marking the first day of the new school year, noted already members of  localist groups are handing out flyers aimed at proselytizing secondary youngsters to join the independence movement. Ng said schools could turn to the administration office or even the police to stop the activity if it turns disruptive. .

He also said students in the city may discuss diverse issues – but within the context of the Basic Law. He added, however, that Hong Kong independence is a "pseudo-issue" which has no grounds for legitimate academic discussion.

The education secretary encouraged students to learn more about the Basic Law and the "One Country Two System" principle, which are the foundations of Hong Kong's institutional status.

Localists warned as students head back to school
Students come to school on the first day at Fresh Fish Trader School in Monk Kok district on September 1 2016. (Photo by Parker Zheng / China Daily)

The Council on Professional Conduct in Education, a government advisory body, reached a unanimous decision not to spell out guidelines for discussions on “Hong Kong independence” into its official code this week, saying existing guidelines were sufficient.

Ng said he agreed with the decision and said principals and teachers had accumulated rich experience over the  past few years and have the professional skills to guide student discussion on controversial issues.

During his school visit, Ng joined in puzzle games with grade two students and joined grade six students, playing "rainbow umbrella" - a team activity that uses a large cloth to toss a ball.

Ng noted that the Education Bureau (EDB) will work with a focus on students' mental health for the school year 2016/17. He added the EDB would cooperate with the Department of Health on  a project called the Joyful@SchoolCampaign.

The project, which advocates "sharing, positive thinking and enjoying life," is an attempt to enhance students' mental wellbeing and encourage them to seek help when they need it. He didn't reveal when and to the scale the project would be implemented.

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