Thousands of protesters held a rally in Hong Kong Saturday in a final push to force the government to scrap Chinese patriotism lessons before the start of a new school year.
Some 40,000 parents and students gathered outside the government headquarters despite rain, public broadcaster RTHK quoted organisers as saying. However, police put the figure at only 8,100.
It was the second mass demonstration in two months after up to 90,000 people took to the streets in July to oppose the lessons, which they say is a bid to brainwash children with Chinese propaganda in semi-autonomous Hong Kong.
The rally came just before the new school year which is due to start on Monday. The government wants schools to start introducing the subject voluntarily from then, making it compulsory in all schools by 2016.
Local media reports have said most schools plan not to introduce the subject this year.
An education ministry spokesman said the government would continue to listen to all views but made no hint that it would drop the lessons.
"The education bureau urges all parties to be calm, unbiased and make the students' interest the priority," the spokesman said.
The government has said the "national education" subject is important in fostering a sense of national belonging and identity, amid rising anti-Beijing sentiments in the southern Chinese city of seven million.
Three student activists were due to end a three-day hunger strike over the issue at midnight.