Misleading: This photo does not show ‘anti-police education’ in a classroom
A photo of a woman appearing to use an illustration to discuss the ongoing protests in Hong Kong with small children in a kindergarten-like classroom has been circulating online with a claim that she is teaching hatred against the police force.
This recent Facebook post, for example, says in Chinese that the teacher is spreading “anti-police” thoughts to the children. Blog posts (also here) in mainland China criticizing Hong Kong’s education system of “corrupting young minds with political messages” also included the same photo.
Last year the same image was shared on an online forum. In 2017 Hong Kong legislative councillor Priscilla Leung mentioned the photo during the popular public debate broadcast City Forum on RTHK, accusing the woman of promoting hostility towards the police, according to Stand News.
But such claims are misleading.
Annie Lab found the photo was taken in 2014 at the height of the city’s Umbrella Movement. It was posted by Antony Dapiran, the author of the book City of Protest: A Recent History of Dissent in Hong Kong, on Oct. 19, 2014, on Twitter with a caption, “Story time: explaining tear gas to preschoolers #OccupyHK.”
The event in the picture took place in the foyer of the Admiralty Centre shopping arcade, not in a school of any kind. It was an open lecture for children based on a story created by the woman to “help children understand the political movement” with colorful illustrations, according to a blog post by the author that has since been deleted.
Annie Lab independently confirmed her identity but decided to withhold her name for security concerns.
In his article, Dapiran observed that she was careful to avoid bias. “It was more about the overall situation,” he told Annie Lab in an email, “what had happened and why.”
“Remember that this was back in 2014 when there was nothing like the kind of ‘anti-police’ sentiment that was prevalent in 2019,” he said.
Some local schools have been under attack for bringing political matters into classrooms since the democratic movement rebounded in June last year, while various teachers were penalized by the Education Bureau for making political remarks on social media platforms.
At the same time, many criticized the Education Bureau for spreading “white terror” into schools.