Parents and educators alike took to the streets of Hong Kong over the weekend to protest what they are calling a propaganda campaign aimed at "brainwashing" school children into supporting the communist-run country.
The controversy stems from the reports that the Hong Kong government created a 34-page book titled "The China Model" which highlights the significant contributions China's single party Communist state has produced, as well as praising the political system under which China's economy has prospered.
The new handbook will anchor the national education curriculum for students starting when students are six years old. The book is set to be introduced in Hong Kong schools next year and is expected to create a sense of unity and national pride in Hong Kong, as reported by Reuters.
While the book points out some of the negative occurrences in recent Chinese history including exposing corrupt officials and the poisonous milk powder incident, the book does not explain the June 4, 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. The glaring omission is causing some families in Hong Kong to question the integrity of the book and the motives behind it.
"This material is given to elementary school students. They don't have the independent thinking capabilities to judge for themselves," Joseph Wong, 19, a youth activist, told local media.
It is not just students and parents who are wary to endorse this new education plan. About 150 Christian schools have already said that they would not implement the book in their courses according to ENINews.com.
Parents were adamant that if the new book were to become the foundation of the education system in Hong Kong they would consider moving to another country.
"We don't want our child to be fed this material," P.S. Ho said, adding: "If the initiative continues without changes, maybe we will change schools later or immigrate to another country."
Amid the protests Chinese officials assured Hong Kong citizens that the introduction of the book would be monitored and that no improprieties would be conducted.
We definitely would not want to see any so-called brainwashing type of education from happening. If that indeed happens, which we do not believe will happen ... we would be the first one to come out to condemn such a situation," Lee Chack-fan, chairman of a group tasked with drafting the guidelines for the national education program, said.