Teaching politics : a study of the subject "government and public affairs" in Hong Kong’s schools
Government and Public Affairs (GPA), a subject at senior secondary level, was set up in Hong Kong in 1980's, as part of the civic education drive to prepare for the change of sovereignty in 1997. It still is the only subject whose content is entirely about the study of politics and government. This study investigates the perceptions of GPA teachers with regard to how the subject is taught and how the subject may have an impact on the students with regard to the key concerns of civic education m Hong Kong, namely national identity, patriotism, democratic learning and international outlook. It aims at filling the literature gap about the implementation of GPA in schools. Results of the study may also be used as reference when politics is considered as a subject taught in the formal curriculum. Qualitative analysis was used and it was done in the tradition of the grounded theory. GPA teachers and other pertinent parties, namely curriculum planners, public examination setters and the Subject Officer at the Hong Kong Examination and Assessment Authority were interviewed. In line with the tradition of grounded theory, theoretical sampling was used and academics were invited to comment on significant concepts that emerged in the study. The results of the study show that didactic methods are commonly adopted by many teachers and the subject may only have very little or even negative effect on enhancing national identity and patriotism of the students. The subject's contribution to democratic learning and the development of international perspectives in understanding politics is also limited. These need to be understood against an analysis that takes into account milieu, curriculum design and personal beliefs of the teachers. A model is proposed to explain the salient features of the analysis. Based on the findings of the study, recommendations for improving the effectiveness of the subject's delivery are made.