Strengthening rule of law education to enhance law-abiding awareness

Strengthening the rule of law is one of the initiatives in the 2021 Policy Address. To achieve this objective, the Department of Justice (DoJ) will continue to roll out the Vision 2030 for Rule of Law (Vision 2030) to further promote the proper concept of the rule of law. “Empowerment” is a programme under the Vision 2030 in which support is provided to schools in carrying out education on the rule of law to enhance the law-abiding awareness among young people.

I always believe that upholding the rule of law is not the sole responsibility of judges and lawyers but should be shouldered by the whole community. I am glad to learn that there are different organisations promoting education on the rule of law, giving students the basic legal knowledge and nurturing their positive values and attitudes. I also wish those from the legal sector can make best of their expertise and experience by taking a more active role in serving the community.

In light of the traditional idiom that “example is better than precept”, the DoJ supports the Endeavour Education Centre’s collaboration with the Education Bureau to organise the “Reinforcing the Rule of Law” training course for teachers. The teachers who completed the course are expected to set a good example to their students. In addition to the concept of the rule of law, the training course also covers knowledge on the Constitution, the Basic Law and national security. It has already attracted more than 200 teachers, including principals of primary and secondary schools, to participate since its commencement.

In the training course that just took place between October 19 and 21, I had the honour to be invited to give a talk on “How the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region consolidates the upholding of the rule of law in society” during which I introduced Hong Kong’s legal system and the spirit of the rule of law. Through the training course, teachers are able to gain a proper understanding on the rule of law, the relation between the Constitution and the Basic Law as well as the importance of safeguarding national security. With the teachers setting a good example on respecting the law and enhancing the awareness of law-abiding, I hope that students will follow suit and further disseminate the messages to their friends and peers.

To tie in with the Government’s public education on the rule of law, the DoJ together with the Basic Law Foundation launched the “e-Resources for Rule of Law and the Basic Law” to meet the increasing needs for teaching materials. Apart from legal knowledge and information on the Basic Law, references on the Constitution and national security will also be available. The online platform will be further promoted to primary schools with a view to reinforcing public confidence in the rule of law.

At the same time, the DoJ has offered support to the “Pilot Scheme on Rule of Law Education for Secondary School Students” organised by the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute. Through professional collaboration between the legal and education sectors, it is hoped that secondary school students are able to understand the core concept of the rule of law – everyone is equal before the law, judicial independence and the importance of law-abiding awareness – in order to correct any misinformation in the community.

There are in fact many more projects under the Vision 2030 which aim to raise the awareness of the different sectors regarding the legal principles and the rule of law through diversified channels. A few examples include “Studio DoJ”, “Rule of Law through drama”, trainings and exchanges for professionals, and secondment to international organisations, etc.

The DoJ recently also launched a video competition to invite secondary students to share their thoughts on the rule of law. The award presentation ceremony will be held in late January next year during which a renowned director will share his personal experience in movie making. Students who are interested in camerawork are encouraged to grab the opportunity and unleash their creativity. I look forward to watching all those interesting yet insightful video.

The work of moulding young minds and nurturing individuals comes with great missions and responsibilities, in which a quality education on the rule of law is an indispensable part. Being a “minister of justice”, the DoJ is committed to promoting the rule of law and fully rendering its support to schools in the rule of law education. Through continued co-operation with schools, sponsoring bodies and stakeholders, I am confident that we can further strengthen the spirit of the rule of law in schools and also in the community as a whole.

October 26, 2021