National education in a democratizing society : an ethnographic study of education for citizenship in a Hong Kong school
After its sovereignty transfer to China in 1997, Hong Kong has seen added new national components to its currently practiced school civic education curriculum which promotes basically a local democracy. The study is thus to examine what national curriculum is implemented in schools in building the 'one country, two systems' China locally. This is a case study, consisting of ethnographic participant observations for a period of 14 months in a secondary school, of ethnographic interviews with 9 secondary 6 and 5 student informants, of eight class observations ranging from secondary 1 to 7, and of documentary research about the school's civic education programme, which is focused on the exploration and explanation of how students learn, from their viewpoint, the different facets and levels of a national citizenship being developed in the school. Different from what it has in the mainland China, it is found that the national identity students have learnt is territorialized in the sense that it is a composite identity of nationalism and democracy, with a two-tier loyalty towards Hong Kong and China, a democratic Hong Kong and de-politicized ethno-cultural China. Also, the making of the national identity is more an interactive process of consensus and of cultural decisions among various participants like the government, teachers, parents, students and past students, media and outside bodies rather than a national imprinting. It demonstrates characteristics very like Smith' ร plural model of nation building at its macro-process level and at its micro-process level Anderson's national theory of imagination with a modification. The study hints that the school's national programme turns out to be citizenship education for divergence rather than for convergence as it is initially planned. While the school enlarges the commonality of the ethno-cultural base for national identification, it at the same time widens the political differences of the two sides of the border through its deliberate neglect and avoidance of teaching of mainland politics and its focus on local politics. Despite the fact that the national civic education is the school-based programme and the study is context-specific, there are points and possible lines of development found in the case school, the author believes, more commonly shared than distinct in other local schools which imagine in more or less the same way that they face similar - situations in conducting-the- civic education programme in the HKSAR in the early post-handover years.