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Civicus is advocating for a special arrangement for the first waiver if the study tour to the Mainland is not feasible. (Sing Tao Daily)

Exemption for the initial Civics educational excursion to the Mainland may be granted if the coordination of the tour by the school principal is challenging.
  • Students are mandated to undertake a study tour to the Mainland as part of their Civics curriculum. However, details concerning the arrangement of the tour are yet to be disclosed. A few principals have proposed special exemptions for the initial cohort of students due to the ongoing epidemic.


    (Sing Tao Daily) As the epidemic gradually eases and rumors circulate about customs clearance between Hong Kong and the Mainland, opinions vary within the school sector about the feasibility of organizing a study tour to the Mainland for the senior secondary school's Civic and Social Development subject. Some secondary school principals are tentatively hopeful that initial students pursuing the subject will be permitted to fulfil the requirement by the start of their Form 6 summer vacation, in order to alleviate exam preparation stress. However, some principals maintain that customs clearance has yet to progress, and that they must also catch up with the curriculum and prepare for exams during the epidemic. Meanwhile, some headteachers have noted a lack of progress in the clearance process. Considering the need to realign with the curriculum and prepare for exams during the pandemic, the authorities may need to temporarily waive the exam requirement for the initial Civics subject, provided it cannot be completed in the next summer break.

    Civics, the course that has replaced Liberal Studies, mandates that senior secondary students partake in a study tour to Mainland China once throughout their three-year programme. Initially, there were 21 itineraries suggested by the authorities for students to select from. In July, all secondary schools in Hong Kong had already determined the Civics study tour for the following two years. Yet, six months have elapsed, and the itinerary arrangements remain incomplete. The Secretary of Education, Mrs. Constance Choy, stated that in the event of customs clearance not impeding the Mainland study tours, schools can make up for missed opportunities prior to graduation.
    Concerns were expressed over the challenge associated with providing care for infected students.


    The initial group of Civics pupils are currently studying in Form 5 and will proceed to the second semester of Form 5 to prepare for the forthcoming Diploma of Secondary Education Examination, scheduled for early next year. Wong Jing-yung, Headteacher of Chong Chi Secondary School, holds a cautiously optimistic outlook towards the success of the educational trip. She anticipates that organizing a mainland study trip for the initial Civics student cohort before the summer break will remain appropriate. This will be advantageous for other educational areas in addition to aiding students in addressing their emotional concerns and relieving examination stress.


    Recently, the situation regarding the epidemic in Mainland China has once again experienced fluctuations. Wong Jing-yung opines that the virulence of the newly emerging virus has diminished, given the high vaccination rate among pupils; however, he acknowledges the potential for student infection during study tours and the difficulty in arranging for teachers to care for infected students, given the teacher-student ratio. He suggests authorities establish a mechanism to manage such situations. He suggested that if the study trip is unfeasible next summer, the authorities ought to ponder on substitutes such as virtual interaction. He emphasised that even accomplishing 50% or 60% of the overall number of students would be satisfactory if meeting the 100% requirement is untenable.


    The Lau Wing Sang Secondary School, belonging to The Chinese Missionary Society, intends to organize a two-day and one-night educational trip to Guangdong Province in May of the upcoming year. This trip is targeted towards Form 5 students specializing in civics. The school's principal, Mr. Mui Chi-Yip, stated that the main objective behind this short-distance trip is to safeguard students from contracting the epidemic and keep any potential disruptions to school operations at a minimum. Nevertheless, customs clearance will be required before confirmation of the study tour. If the study tour is postponed until the students have progressed to Form 6 and the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) examination is imminent but cannot yet be planned, the authorities should contemplate offering special dispensations to waive the study tour requirements. "Although students may have fewer opportunities to broaden their horizons, I am confident that if their academic performances are not negatively affected, students and teachers will show understanding towards the special arrangements made due to the epidemic situation."


    EDB: Announcement of arrangements in due course


    Plans for supplementary visits before students' graduation were described by Mr. Mui Chi-yip as "wishful thinking," and actual implementation was shown to be challenging. Mr. Mui Chi-yip highlighted issues with teachers managing both administrative duties and teaching responsibilities, while students may have difficulty attending due to arrangements such as summer employment, graduation trips, and university interviews. The Chair of the Association of Heads of Secondary Schools, Mr. Anthony Lien, concurs with the ongoing concern in the school sector related to the epidemic. He proposes that the Administration reviews the Independent Enquiry Study (IES) and considers special arrangements for the first year of Citizenship, exempting the study tour requirement. In recent years, the IES has exempted the subject of Liberal Studies.


    The Education Bureau has confirmed that the Mainland study tour forms an essential component of the Civics curriculum. The Administration will announce timely updates, factoring in the epidemic situation and customs clearance arrangements. The purpose of the requirement is to facilitate students in gaining insight into the country's history and culture through the study tour, thereby enhancing their comprehension of the state of affairs.