Education is the foundation upon which societies are built, but, to carry the metaphor further, we can't expect to build a proper education system if its own foundation is weak.
The primary role of education is to equip the young with the knowledge and skills to advance not only their future, but also that of society as a whole.
After witnessing events in Hong Kong over the past six months, it is fair to say the city has become a victim of flawed education.
The number of students arrested is telling. Of the more than 6,000 people arrested in connection with protests since September, over 40 percent are students. A majority of these were secondary school students.
More worrisome is teachers' conduct. The Education Bureau has received more than 120 complaints against teachers.
Education Secretary Kevin Yeung Yun-hung has taken a firm stance on secondary school principals who, he said, would be held responsible for the involvement of their staff in illegal protests.
There are instances of teachers having tried to radicalize students through their political views. Some have even incited students to participate in illegal protests.
Yeung said funding may be reduced if misconduct is discovered within a school's management.
Yeung's warning underlines the government's zero tolerance toward principals and schools found to be condoning or covering up for offending teachers.
In extreme cases, if a principal is found to have failed in his or her supervisory role, or has improperly managed teachers and the school, the bureau will consider removing him or her from the post.
The chaos in Hong Kong can, on one hand, be attributed to outside influences, but we should not overlook the internal factors, such as the irresponsible attitude toward radical teachers.
Education is a lengthy process. Even if we make changes now, it would take years, perhaps decades, before we start to see meaningful changes.
We need to ensure that students and others in Hong Kong realize the importance of living in the city according to the law. Activities that can destabilize the city and the rest of the country should be stopped.
With influence and interference apparently affecting Hong Kong from within and beyond, we need to find a way to enact Article 23 of the Basic Law, which states that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region "shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People's Government."
It is a highly sensitive issue. Careful consideration is required before moving ahead with it. But the government needs to begin to evaluate how quickly it can be implemented in order to stop outside influences from affecting Hong Kong's internal stability.
Other legal tools may be considered before the enactment of Article 23 to help crack down on potentially lethal actions and protect Hong Kong from external instigation.
After more than six months of chaos across the city, we have begun to see the serious consequences of the strife: extensive damage to public facilities, human casualties, and both mid-and long-term economic downturn. Nothing has been left unaffected by the massive disruptions caused by violent protests.
Hong Kong is paying the price for unrest with an increase in crimes, such as robbery and arson, which will further tarnish its image as one of the safest cities in the world.
There are five stages in any social movement: emergence, fragmentation, radicalization, weakening and rehabilitation. The movement is entering the "weakening" stage. We should see the number of protesters dwindle in the months to come.
Ultimately, the phase of rehabilitation will be reached, when we should seize the opportunity to refocus our approach to education.
It is necessary to cleanse our education, and remind teachers and principals of their responsibilities as educators and supervisors.
A lot of work remains to be done, but we must forge full steam ahead into the rehabilitation stage. Only in this way will the city start to heal socially and economically, and the important task of rebuilding Hong Kong's global brand and reputation can begin.