Hong Kong National Education – get ready for a new wave of migration
A new subject called Moral and National Education will be introduced across all grades from Primary 1 through to Secondary 6, and will make up 3-5% of a student’s curriculum. The Hong Kong Education Bureau says that the subject is designed to instil national pride and belonging, and has released the curriculum guide as well as some teaching resources. However protesters are alarmed by its contents and see this as a move to influence younger people towards a more pro-Communist party stance.
The programme was to have begun in all schools across Hong Kong this year, but due to strong reaction, the mandatory introduction of the subject has been pushed back to 2015.
The announcement of the 1997 British handover of Hong Kong to China led to an estimated 10 percent of the population taking up citizenship in places like Canada, the United States, and Australia. This led to the huge wave of migration that we saw in Australia in the late ’80s and ’90s. See the following graph (click for larger version):
The relative stability and prosperity of Hong Kong since 1997 has meant that Hong Kong has seen a steady trickle of returnees going back to live and work there – perhaps as much as 30% of those who originally left. And this returnee trend has been felt in some Cantonese ministries here in Sydney.
However the prospect of this subject being taught in all schools from 2015 is likely to stem that flow of returnees – and some are talking about it creating a new wave of migration out of Hong Kong, particularly among young families – a wave of migration similar to the one we saw in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Emily Lau of the Hong Kong Democratic Party says here that, “some parents are talking about withdrawing the kids from the schools. Some are even talking about emigrating.” Moreover the central government is unlikely to be greatly troubled by this, as any exodus will only mean greater control over the governance of Hong Kong will pass to mainland Chinese who are increasingly looking to relocate to Hong Kong.
If this happens, the implications for ministry would be huge. While it seemed as though the future of Chinese ministry lay in Mandarin ministry, suddenly it appears that there may be a lot more work for Cantonese ministries all over, as new families migrate and look to find their feet, build friendships, and join churches. Cantonese ministries have done very well in the past in growing the gospel through relational networks – it remains to be seen if the current young Cantonese families in Chinese churches will be as evangelistically minded as the previous generation were.
It also means that Sunday schools and second generation ministries may need to prepare themselves for a new wave of Chinese youth joining youth fellowships and English ministries. The danger for these ministries will be complacency, as youth fellowships will grow because of transfer growth – and not because of true gospel growth.
And it would also mean that the involvement of Chinese churches in schools ministry, already necessary on account of Mandarin migration, will likely become even more important in coming years.