This study focuses on the intention of incorporated “Liberal Studies” as a compulsory subject for all senior secondary students, its present-day impact on the social awareness of youngsters, and its influence on the Umbrella Movement of 2014. The study analyzes not only syllabi but also public examination questions including comments and scoring criteria in terms of the severely examination-orientated educational system in Hong Kong.
Liberal Studies consists of six modules as a cross-curriculum. Initially, in 1992, it was introduced for senior secondary third-grade students; in 2009, it was promoted from an elective to a compulsory subject. Eventually, it took over Citizenship Education shaping Civil Society across the handover. Finally, the premature intention matched the aim of shaping the knowledge-based economy underpinned by the education and curriculum reforms under the new Hong Kong government.
According to its developers, Hong Kong’s curriculum of Liberal Studies based on Independent Inquiry Study was designed to establish student-centered learning in the educational system, as well as to develop high-level learning skills, such as critical thinking, independent thinking and problem-solving. In other words, it aimed at fostering new generations who are different from the apolitical generations and have social awareness regarding civil society by utilizing live news media materials instead of textbooks. Both the Liberal Studies modules of Hong Kong Today and Modern China are deliberately designed to shape social awareness motivated critical thinking in students.
The first syllabus for the elective subject was issued in 1991; it was revised in 1996 and 2000, and subsequently in 2007 as a compulsory subject. Regarding the development of critical thinking, the previous three editions claimed to solely generate “critical awareness”; however, the 2007 edition embodied “positive values”, “proactive attitudes”, and “social awareness” concepts. The 2000 edition was relatively simple; in this edition, the concept of “democracy” was wholly absent and the concepts of “rule of law” and “freedom” were only partly discussed. Meanwhile, the 1996 edition was added to “press freedom” and compared to the Chinese official media, defined as the mouthpiece of the government and the Communist Party.
The 1991 and 1996 editions emphasized the critical difference between Hong Kong and China, “Socialism vs. Capitalism” and “China-model democracy vs. Western-model democracy”. The examination questions have consistently sparked fresh controversies, and the scoring criteria also have triggered an in-depth discussion on their exact framework as well as a statement on the highly critical analysis. However, regarding the perspectives toward China expressed by the questions, the dichotomy between the two has been altered to multiple perspectives so that students can understand China’s stance following the issuance of the 2000 edition.
In conclusion, the incorporation of Liberal Studies has strongly stimulated students’social awareness, and its impact expanded to all students after the subject became compulsory in 2009. Accordingly, this study indicates that university and senior secondary students, comprising the compulsory Liberal Studies generation, somehow embody critical thinking so that they frequently take an anti-government stance, including the creation of the Umbrella Movement.
In China, the equal use and development of minority languages are guaranteed by law. However, the rate of use of Chinese in the place of Mongolian has risen in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, and the loss of Mongolian and a trend towards the use of Chinese as a mother language are particularly marked in the case of Mongolians living in urban areas. Maintenance of the Mongolian language by Mongolians and its transmission to the younger generation have become an issue. Whereas the learning of Chinese and English is being stressed from childhood, use of the ethnic language has become narrower, and ethnic language ability has also declined. It is necessary to search for the factors in the selection of a kindergarten for young Mongolian children in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region. The choice of a kindergarten is the first school choice, and since it has a major effect on the selection of schools thereafter, the choice of a kindergarten is extremely important. To answer the question in regard to key factors in the initial selection of a kindergarten, this chapter focuses on kindergarten selection in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, and takes as its purpose the examination of these determinant factors.
The study primarily uses domestic data related to kindergarten education, interview/survey data, and a comparison of two different types of kindergartens that each follow a different medium of instruction and terminology. Additionally, the statistical data is used to evaluate the current state of kindergarten education in Inner Mongolia, and identify its influence on kindergarten selection. Furthermore, the survey data, followed by a cross tabulation analysis, reveals the determinant factors of why a particular kindergarten was selected. This survey was conducted from August 30, 2013 to September 30, 2013. The subjects of the survey were the parents of ethnic Mongolian children aged between four and five years old in the city of Huhhot in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. Huhhot is the capital of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the area most densely populated with Han and Mongolian peoples. Three ethnic Mongolian and three ethnic Han kindergartens were chosen as samples for the survey. The researcher surveyed 208 parents, minding the balance between the number of infants in both types of kindergartens.
Three themes surfaced as a result of the above research and analysis. First is the linguistic factor, where Mongolian people who select an “ethnic Mongolian” kindergarten attribute their choice to the ability of their children to learn their mother tongue, and where Mongolian people who select a Han kindergarten attribute their choice to the ability of their children to learn both English and Chinese. Second, there are fewer “ethnic Mongolian” kindergartens in Inner Mongolia, which is an important factor for this group’s kindergarten selection. Finally, family background plays a vital role in the selection of a kindergarten, with circumstances such as the father’s low education level, the high income of a household, and one of the parents not belonging to the ethnic Mongolian group emerging as determinant factors. For example, if the language used in the home is primarily Han, the possibility that parents will select a Han Chinese kindergarten is high.