*Update: Hong Kong’s government on Saturday backed down from plans to make “national education” mandatory. The scheme will now be voluntary.
Tens of thousands of people swamped Hong Kong’s government offices on Friday evening as part of ongoing demonstrations against plans for China-backed “national education” in the former British colony. The course, which was pitched as a way to teach China’s history and to instill national pride, has met staunch resistance from students, parents and teachers who consider it brainwashing. The government wants public elementary schools to start teaching national education this year, and high schools next year, before it becomes mandatory in 2015.