Patriotic education has been on the agenda for a while. With the passing of the Patriotic Education Law of the People’s Republic of China by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, it is also now on a broader social and political agenda – it is for all citizens, not just students.
Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu, for example, has indicated that the city will embrace the spirit of this new law. This emphasis on the Hong Kong context needs to be considered from an educational perspective. The basic ideas that make up patriotic education need to be identified and then, most importantly, properly sequenced across the age spectrum for Hong Kong students and the whole community.
Patriotic education is not a new idea in China or elsewhere. All nations seek to develop young people and citizens who love their country and will support it. It may be called civics in the United States, citizenship education in the United Kingdom, or civics and citizenship education in Australia, but the purpose is the same: to develop understanding, skills and national values.
Patriotism is not nationalism, where your country is seen to be better than other countries. Patriotic education is a process focused on building and developing support for the nation and its achievements.