Children offered counselling after massacre lesson

Children at a Tuen Mun primary school are being offered counselling after pupils as young as six were made to watch graphic footage of the Nanjing Massacre, leaving some frightened and in tears and prompting complaints from parents.

The Po Leung Kuk Hong Kong Taoist Association Yuen Yuen Primary School said on Monday that it will pay more attention in future to ensure that its teaching materials are grade-appropriate.

The school and its sponsoring body both said they were very concerned about the incident.

“The school will appropriately adjust teaching materials according to the situation in different grades, and will put more care into students’ emotions and feelings,” a statement read.

Parents with children studying at the school told reporters that a counselling session had been arranged for pupils on Monday.

A man with a child studying in primary one said he believed the school had only acted in accordance with guidelines from the Education Bureau.

“The teachers may have thought that what was played was just factual, and didn’t expect the children to react so strongly,” he said.

Another parent surnamed Chan, who has a child studying in primary four, said education authorities should provide better guidelines to schools.

“I think the school shouldn’t be blamed for this incident. The Education Bureau’s guidelines aren’t clear enough,” she said.

“They should give better guidelines now that Hong Kong is adopting patriotic education. They should give more thought to this matter, such as clearly classifying materials.”

The honorary chairman of the Aided Primary School Heads Association, Cheung Yung-pong, told RTHK that education officials had not given schools enough time to prepare for activities marking the massacre, having only notified them on November 22.

He said pupils of different ages should learn about the massacre in different ways, and some footage from the documentary clip isn’t suitable for primary school pupils.

Cheung said it was the first year that schools were asked to mark the massacre and he believes the Education Bureau has room to improve when it comes to the relevant arrangements.

In a statement on Sunday, the Education Bureau said it did not order schools to show children in all grades the video in question.

It said officials had made a Powerpoint presentation as a reference for schools and teachers could choose whether or not to use the clip in class.