Moral and national education is a school curriculum proposed by the Education Bureau of Hong Kong to replace the original civil and moral education which aimed at developing a positive value and attitude of students, building a well quality of moral and national sense.1 In 3rd October 2010, the Hong Kong Chief Executive, Donald Tsang stated in his policy address, the moral and national education will be introduced to the education syllabus of the primary school and secondary school in 2012 and 2013 respectively with the aim of strengthening the national education of students in Hong Kong. However, this curriculum brought to a large controversy among the society of Hong Kong. Organizations like the scholarism, national education parent concern group and the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union, etc. opposed the need of proposing this curriculum for two main reasons, first, that is unnecessary to introduce this subject independently since the syllabus of Chinese history and Liberal studies have overlapped with moral and national education. Second, this curriculum is compulsorily introducing the sense of national patriot to students, education will come down to be the tool of political brain washing to students.
Therefore, various social networks organized an anti-national education movement, which resulted in a great ring of the public and the concession of the government. In this movement, social networks play an important role, they facilitate the mobilization of people, bringing awareness of the people so as to enlarge the scale of the movement. In this paper, I will mainly investigate the role of social networks in strengthening and undermining the movement, and also the effort tin bringing participant with different or similar background together. On the other hand, I wll discuss the importance of internet in strengthening and undermining the movement in various aspects.
B. Strength of social networks in unfolding the movement
There are a few social networks that remarkably helped the development of the anti-national education movement, not only on their own work, but also in attracting the other social networks to join their work and charm the participation.
The first social network strengthen the movement is scholarism, this organization is founded by a group of post-90s in 2011, which aimed at opposing the implementation of national education curriculum in Hong Kong. They are the originator of the anti-national education movement and then raise the attention of the people. Early in the 1st July 2011, they have joined the Hong Kong 1 July protest to speak out their request to government to withdraw the implementation of national education in Hong Kong education curriculum. Their voice and popularity then rose with a chain of participation in different movements organized by other social networks, for instance, they have joined the petition demanding the redress the June fourth incident in China, attend the TV programme City Forum, etc. Scholarism tried their best to get the attention of the government and also the public, many other social network have then discover and aware this organizations, nearly 20 social networks, for instance, national education parent concern group and the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union then joined together and formed the alliance of opposing national education. The theory mentioned by Della Porta, D. and Diani, M. can be applied to this, people can often become involved in a specific movement or campaign through their previous links, and their participation will forges new links.
The alliance then took a great step to unfold the movement by organizing a demonstration with the slogan of “no brain washing” on the 29th July 2012.
2. National education parent concern group
The second social network that remarkably helped to unfold the movement is the national education parent concern group. This organization is founded by Chen Shik Chi, a lecturer of the Hong Kong Chinese University. The aim of this organization is to request the withdrawal of national education from the education curriculum in Hong Kong. Within a month, the number of members of this organization has risen to near 1500. This organization is relatively not a political one, the participants are not political leaders or activists, rather is the parents of the students in Hong Kong, with a specific target concerned group, it is easier for them to attract the members. The organization has joined several social movements related to their opposition in national education. For instance, they are one of the member organizations of the alliance of opposing national education, and helped in the 729 demonstration, later collect signs of people in different districts for their support of anti-national education. As we can see that the organizations that particularly active in the anti-national education movement are neither some traditional political organizations nor some large scale organization with a wide range of membership.
Yet they are only freshly established organizations with relatively small base of membership and short history. Why they were success in bringing the anti-national movement that topic-catching is the nature of the organizations and the close contact with other social networks. Internally, the unity between members will be denser and more integrated since the base of membership is small, it will be easier for the members to contact with each other and get all-round information, the scale can prevent the situation that members in the group will easily get ideological distinctions and rivalries, the internal network will then be more fragmented. Secondly, with the same goal of requesting the government to withdraw national education from the curriculum, there are many organizations from different groups joined their movement which then formed the multiple affiliations. Multiple affiliations is meaning the linkages between different organizations. This helped a lot in boosting the unfolding of the movement, for instance, this can facilitate the personal contact and the development of informal networks which can encourage the individual participation and the mobilization of resources.
Leaders of different organizations can contact each other for the sharing of information and the plan of movement, most importantly, they can get a consensus on the representations of the movement, so that will form a stronger force of opposition to their enemies. Not only for the leaders, the members from different groups can cooperate with others, for instance, the elites of groups can work together and decide a better plan for the movement. Moreover, the wider range of membership will also increase the participation of the social movement. The overlapped members, that is the members that belongs to the different groups in the affiliation, takes an essential role in circulation of information which helps a lot since the more the information the group can get, the more they can control the speed of mobilization.
C. Limitation of social networks in unfolding the movement
Although the small scale of the organization can bring the higher efficiency of decision making, it also has some setbacks. Since the membership base of the organizations is quite narrow, it is hard for them to expand their group internally. The people who intended to join an organization due to three main reasons, first, they will look at the number of individuals in the organization, especially some political ones. People seems to be attracted by the political leaders in the organization so as to join it, then both Scholarism and the National education parent concern group cannot fulfill this requirement. Second requirement is the amount of previous experiences of collective action which is meaning the effort of the organizations in joining or organizing collective actions. Both social networks again are freshly established two years ago, the experiences in participating in collective actions must be relatively less than the traditional groups like the political parties. As we can see from the two requirements, it is really hard for the two social networks to expand their scale in terms of structure and membership which are crucial in the development themselves and participation in the movements they organized.
Courtney from Study Moose
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