Hong Kong to Introduce ‘Patriotic Education’ to Primary Schools by 2025

Hong Kong will roll out a new humanities course in primary schools that embraces “patriotic education,” according to a November 23 announcement from Hong Kong’s Education Bureau. Starting in the 2025-26 school year, primary students will receive lessons on national security and identity, the Chinese Communist Party, the Opium Wars, and more. Students in Primary Six (i.e. 11-to-12-year-olds) will be tasked with learning quotes from Chinese President Xi Jinping. The humanities course and a redesigned science program will jointly replace a broader ‘general studies’ course. According to the Guardian, students will spend around 93 hours, or seven per cent of their total time in primary school, studying the new curriculum components. The restructuring initiative comes on the heels of a recent “patriotic education” law passed on October 24, 2023, by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. That legislation broadly outlined the goals, content, and guiding principles of the new humanities course, among other policy objectives.

Canadian immigration officials will likely be tracking the fallout from this curriculum change — Beijing’s latest bid to nudge the special administrative region closer to the “Motherland” — as the flow of Hong Kongers into Canada continues to grow.


‘Chilling’ impact on education — and the long reach of the NSL

Last week’s development follows an earlier November announcement requiring students at Hong Kong’s largest teacher training institution, the Education University of Hong Kong, to attend national security classes and participate in “immersion activities” in mainland China, according to the South China Morning Post.

The two-pronged policy follows a general ‘chilling’ of freedoms for the city’s teachers dating back to the 2020 imposition of the Beijing-imposed National Security Law (NSL), which outlawed collusion with foreign organizations, secession, subversion, and terrorism, and gives authorities broad powers to stifle dissent and impose order.

Teachers and young families alike have left Hong Kong in increasing numbers since 2020. Data from the Hong Kong government shows at least 64,000 students pulled out of the city’s education system from May 2021 to May 2023, while nearly 6,500 teachers quit or retired at Hong Kong schools during the last academic year — nearly double the typical annual average.


Canada welcomes thousands of Hong Kongers

Canada is a popular landing spot for Hong Kongers. In 2021, according to Canadian immigration news website CIC News, around 2,300 Hong Kong residents secured permanent residence in Canada, representing a nearly 50 per cent increase compared to pre-pandemic annual averages. That momentum has continued: in August 2023 alone, Ottawa received 805 applications from Hong Kong under a special permanent residency scheme.

An estimated 214,000 Canadian immigrants — out of 8.36 million identifying immigrants across the country — selected Hong Kong as their place of birth in the 2021 census.