Hong Kong schools told to play national anthem during celebrations for important dates

Schools in Hong Kong must play the Chinese anthem during celebrations for New Year’s Day, the anniversary of the city’s handover on July 1 and National Day on October 1, according to new guidelines issued by the Education Bureau.

Both local and international schools should also look into cases of students and teachers disrespecting March of the Volunteers, and can call police if the acts involve serious and deliberate insult to the anthem.

The guidelines set out by the bureau on Thursday raised concerns from parents over the definition of an insult and the circumstances under which their children would be punished, while principals urged authorities to provide clearer instructions to schools on how they should teach students about the anthem in the curriculum.

Hong Kong’s legislature passed the national anthem bill earlier this month, with the law gazetted last Friday. Anyone convicted of misusing or insulting the anthem faces a fine of up to HK$50,000 (US$6,450) and three years in prison.

The law also requires Hong Kong’s secretary for education to give directions for the inclusion of the national anthem in the curriculum of primary and secondary schools.

Under guidelines handed out by the bureau to principals, schools must display the flags of the state and city, as well as play the national anthem, with students singing along when holding celebrations for January 1, July 1 and October 1. Previously, schools were only encouraged to do so without any mandatory requirements.

Schools should look into cases of teachers and students failing to follow instructions, and in serious incidents, call police if needed.

“For example, such as a teacher deliberately insulting the anthem in front of students, affecting school operations and others,” the bureau said.

(Photo by Jerry Tang/EYEPRESS)

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