Citizenship and Social Development Is a Subject of Nonchalance


The past 15 years witnessed dramatic changes in Hong Kong’s education sector. Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education, (HKDSE), was first offered in 2009. The first batch of 2012, candidates were taught there. It had two key selling points: a mandatory Liberal Studies (LS) which combines science and arts education. This encourages independent thinking and schools-based assessment in all subjects.

This New Senior Secondary Academic structure was designed to promote critical thinking and independent learning. The two major reforms mentioned above were rescinded due to academic and political reasons. Education Bureau questioned the concept of critical thinking and changed its Chinese translation to “cautious thought” after the establishment camp interpreted “critical” as meaning “criticize.” This was too negative.

Stakeholders worry about the impact of LS being replaced by Citizenship and Social Development.

These students don’t learn to deal with issues according to the binary approach of “positive and negative,” as this has been practiced since time immemorial. However, the new subject emphasizes cultivating positive attitudes and values in students. Therefore, it is easy to see that China issues aren’t a place for negative people.

In reality, the “positive values”, are mostly “government value”, as shown clearly in HKEAA’s sample papers, which are almost entirely based on official publications. The textbooks also explicitly endorse the position of Chinese Communist Party such as stating that Hong Kong is not a colony. This implies that the new subject is brainwashing history and falsifying it.

What do the frontline teachers think of this topic? A Mr. Cheung (pseudonym), who has been teaching History for more than 30 years, will teach CSD in the coming academic year. He sighed when asked about brainwashing. Only official CSD textbooks .”

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or CSD approved teaching materials are used.

He stated that teachers were forced to follow the official positions. The Chinese government did not recognise the unjust treaties and does not consider Hong Kong a colony. It was only temporarily incapable of retaking control over Hong Kong. In the 1970s, the Chinese government asked the United Nations to remove Hong Kong and Macau from the list of colonies, and the UN agreed. The word colony was also taken from Hong Kong’s banknotes .”


When asked if he thought he’d tell the truth about his past and give the students problematic textbooks, the man replied, “I don’t think so.” He is a poor breadwinner and will kowtow to anybody who offers me a job .”


He discussed the best type of teacher to be able to teach this subject. My friend has a CSD panel leader who teaches Mathematics and Design and Applied Technology. He is a great CSD teacher, with a good understanding of History and a strong commitment. He won’t feel guilty about reading the .”

texts out loud.

Ms. Shek, pseudonymous teacher who worked for 10 years in education, has criticized CSD’s various design choices as unpractical. The exam results will either be “attained” (or “unattained”); teaching and learning can both become tedious as it is impossible to teach argument. The teachers will teach only half the time. They will then send staff from the directorate to visit the schools to “knock on the mountain and shake off the tiger”, a Chinese phrase meaning to give a warning.

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The curriculum prohibits inquiry learning from involving topics or events that are unlawful or imprudent. The family responsibility system (bao zhan diao hu), a policy representative of Deng Xiaoping’s “Reform and Openness” policy was originally illegal. Before it could be implemented in Anhui, all villagers had to sign a death warrant. These “illegal” events are not allowed to be included in the CSD curriculum.

‘ The mainland study tour is even worse. It is possible to judge the level of care these guys take for students by stating that students who have broken legs or are suffering from serious illness may not be eligible. It is quite expensive to obtain a medical note. What if the student’s mainland travel permit is lost the day prior to the tour ?”


LS and other HKDSE elective subjects each have 250 hours of learning time, tested by at least two papers, whereas CSD only has 150 hours and only one paper. CSD was first known as a “renamed topic” when it was made public. This means that the Education Bureau didn’t care much about the name of the subject and wanted to eliminate LS. Everybody can see how politicized and academically-minded the subject is.

Stanley Ng Chaupak of Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions is worried that teachers will be teaching and students will learn with ease .”

The views expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Epoch Times.


Hans Yeung was a former supervisor at the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. He specializes in history assessment. His expertise is in Chinese and modern Hong Kong history. He produces and hosts programs about Hong Kong history. Additionally, he is a columnist in independent media. He lives now in the UK, with his family. Email: [email protected]

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