Hong Kong's government on Saturday backed down on a plan to force schoolchildren to take "Chinese patriotism" classes, after weeks of protests and on the eve of crucial legislative polls.
"Scholarism" protest leader Joshua Wong (arm raised) addresses protesting crowds outside government headquarters in Hong Kong late Friday night, before the government relented on the introduction of new Chinese identity courses. "The amendment of this policy means that we are giving the authority to the schools," Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told reporters a day after 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 thousands onto the streets.Carrying signs that said "We don't need no thought control", the protesters called on local authorities to resist what they saw as attempts by Beijing to fill children's heads with Communist Party propaganda.Discontent over China's influence has grown as home purchases by mainland buyers stoked prices, and an influx of tourists and Chinese mothers giving birth in hospitals led to over-crowding in the city."Following this announcement, I hope that education will return to education, campus life will return to normal," Leung said."Those who gather outside the government headquarters and others will end their hunger strike, class boycotts and demonstration to insist on the withdrawal of the moral and national education subject."Schools were meant to adopt the subject voluntarily this year but many said they wanted more guidance from the government about how it should be taught.A survey...
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