The Chief Executive, C Y
Leung, has dropped plans to
force schools to teach "moral and national education", and to make it an independent subject.
|Protesters gathered in their thousands on Saturday. Photo: Reuters.|
He announced that instead schools would have freedom to decide whether to introduce the subject as part of other courses, such as
Mr Leung also said he would not have included the issue in his election manifesto if it had not been a policy of the previous
The climb-down, on Saturday, follows nearly two
weeks of protests against the
controversial subject outside
the government headquarters in Admiralty.
The original plan was to introduce
national education in all
primary schools over the next three years, and in all schools by 2016.
But Mr Leung said there would now be no such deadline.
Asked why he had made this sudden change one day ahead of the Legislative Council elections, the Chief Executive rejected suggestions that he had received
instructions from the central
He also reiterated a denial that
introducing the subject to
schools was a political
task given to him by Beijing.
Mr Leung said the policy was
something that he and his government had inherited.
"It's not something of our making", he continued.
"And as soon as we realised that there were opposing and different views in the community, I myself and my team have dealt very quickly with the issue."
Mr Leung called on opponents of national education to stop their protest, hunger strikes and plans to boycott classes.
Afterwards the protesters
who'd been on hunger strike
ended their action.
The organisers of the rally said more than 100,000 people had gathered outside the government
headquarters on Saturday
The Civil Alliance Against National Education welcomed the decision to drop the school deadline.
But a spokeswman, Linda Wong, said
there were still concerns, since responsibility was being placed on individual schools, which could put them in a difficult position.
She added that opponents of the subject had demanded that the controversial curriculum guide be abandoned, but the government had offered only a review.