Schools must use massacre footage with care: bureau

The Education Bureau said on Sunday that it did not order schools to show children in all grades a film featuring disturbing footage of the Nanjing Massacre.

The bureau made the comment to RTHK in response to media reports that children as young as six were left frightened and in tears when they were shown the footage in a moral education class at one local primary school, prompting complaints from parents.

The bureau confirmed that the documentary had been played on local free-to-air television and had been uploaded to the internet, with a warning saying “the following scenes may be disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised”. It said teaching staff could opt to use it as material in class.

However, the bureau spokesman said teachers should be professional and give appropriate guidance when showing videos and photos of the war.

“History is history, we cannot avoid it,” he said. “Wars are cruel anyway, and we must learn to treasure peace, respect lives, forgive others and protect our country through history.”

The spokesman said the bureau had made a Powerpoint presentation on the war for schools’ reference, but teachers should use the teaching materials flexibly and choose the appropriate material for pupils, according to their age, mental and intellectual development, and the school context.

The spokesman added: “We hope all sectors in the society can understand that learning national history is important to educate the next generation, trust education professionals and teachers’ guidance, and not to be misled by one-sided discourse.”

The Nanjing Massacre began on December 13, 1937. Over six weeks, invading Japanese troops killed an estimated 300,000 people in the city. Beijing has long pressed Japan to apologise for the massacre, one of the most brutal episodes of the second world war.