The Education Bureau has announced that creationism and intelligent design will form no part of the senior secondary biology curriculum.
The move has been hailed as a victory by leading scientists at the University of Hong Kong, who in February called for curriculum guidance on evolution to be upgraded to reflect current scientific thinking.
The four scientists, who include dean of science Sun Kwok and science faculty board chairman David Dudgeon, accused the bureau of encouraging schools to promote creationism in biology lessons through the guidelines.
The Concern Group for Hong Kong Science Education, which is lobbying for changes to the guidelines, has also welcomed the paper but says it does not go far enough.
The calls were prompted by a clause in the biology guide, which comes into force in September, that states: "In addition to Darwin's theory, students are encouraged to explore other explanations for evolution and the origins of life."
The bureau's paper was drawn up for the Legislative Council's education panel, after the Concern Group called for a panel debate on the issue. The panel demanded a report from the bureau and postponed a decision on the debate. Last month, the row intensified when the "group of 64" mounted a counter-offensive calling for the clause to be retained.
The bureau's paper points out that the curriculum aims to strengthen students' understanding of scientific inquiry in biology and its links with technology, society and the environment.
"In the topic 'Evolution', the emphasis is put on Darwin's Theory, as it is currently the most widely accepted scientific theory on evolution," it states. "Students are expected to understand the process and mechanism of evolution based on Darwin's Theory. Students should recognise that biological knowledge and theories are developed through observations, hypotheses, experimentations and analyses and [be] aware of the dynamic nature of biological knowledge."
The paper also states: "In the biology curriculum framework, creationism or intelligent design, which was mentioned in the recent submissions to the Legislative Council panel on education concerning the biology curriculum, is not included. In addition to Darwin's Theory, students are encouraged to explore other explanations on evolution such as that of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Sir Alfred Russel Wallace." It stresses that non-scientific explanations are not included.
Professor Dudgeon said: "Th bureau has recognised that the Darwinian theory of evolution constitutes the core of modern biology and that intelligent design and creationism have no place in the modern science curriculum.
"It is a victory for the students and it will help to ensure that our science teaching remains world class. Clearly this guidance needs to be circulated to all secondary schools before the next semester."
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
Hong Kong formally rejects creationism and intelligent design in science classes
Hong Kong became the latest place where students will be taught science, just science, in science classes.