The August 31st decision by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Hong Kong’s Chief Executive election stated that the threshold for nomination would be the support of “more than half of Nominating Committee members”, that the number of candidates be limited to two or three, and that the composition of the Nominating Committee be based on the four sectors of the Election Committee. As teachers and as citizens, we are pained and outraged to see the advancement of democracy in Hong Kong stifled and suppressed. Even though it is unlikely that democratic universal suffrage can be realized in the short term, we absolutely must not give up. During these dark days, we must resolutely guard our stations and stand together to shoulder the responsibility of our time.
A new round of protests in the form of class boycotts is currently being discussed and planned in the education sector. When we look back at history, both in China and overseas, we see that student movements have been an important force in pushing for social progress. Our hope in Hong Kong’s future lies in the passion and spirit shown by our young people and their willingness to take up the mantle in the fight for democracy and social justice.
Yet, while the students are pure of heart, they have recently become subject to unreasonable smears and attacks. We appeal to all sectors of society, and particularly to our colleagues in the education field, to cherish the innocent hearts of the students – do not let them stand alone to face the white terror, give them our staunchest support and protection. During the class boycott action, every student should have freedom from fear.
Here follows some specific suggestions for consideration by colleagues:
- As citizens of society, tertiary students have the freedom ofassociation and expression; they have the right to express their opinions onpolitical issues and teachers should respect this. Student movements provide great opportunities for civic education. We suggest that teachers discuss issues with students in an interactive way and in an atmosphere of mutual respect; encourage students to care about society and to make independent and rational judgments.
- As class boycotts may affect day-to-day teaching, we call on teachers to be understanding of students’ difficulties. While upholding educational principles, we hope teachers can be lenient in dealing with student absences arising from class boycotts. We also suggest that teachers should, as much as possible, avoid setting any important tests or assignments during the period of the class boycott.
- We urge teachers to do as much as they can to allow striking students to catch up with their studies. For example, they could provide make-up classes, offer guidance and classroom audio/visual recordings to help students complete their academic requirements smoothly.
- Colleagues in the education sector and other sectors of society can show their support to the striking students during the period of the class boycott by wearing yellow ribbons.