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Eliminating Discrimination - System & Policy Reviews
The Secondary School Places Allocation System

Promoting equal opportunities in education has been the key focus of the EOC's work. We advocate that boys and girls have equal access to learning at school despite any perceived differences between genders.

Since 1978, Primary Six students were allocated to secondary schools in Hong Kong through the Secondary School Places Allocation (SSPA) System administered by the Education Department (ED). After receiving a number of complaints from parents of both boys and girls on gender discrimination in the allocation process, the EOC conducted a Formal Investigation. The Report was issued in August 1999.

The Report concluded that the System was discriminatory on the basis of sex and asked the ED to review the System so that it is in compliance with the law. In April 2000, ED informed the EOC that it would not change the SSPA System and the EOC sought judicial review on three features in the system in July 2000, -

· separate scaling of internal assessment scores for boys and girls;
· banding of students by sex; and
· sex quotas for placement of Secondary One students in co-educational secondary schools.

In June 2001, the High Court ruled that the three features in SSPA System were contrary to the Sex Discrimination Ordinance and were unlawful. To remedy substantiated cases of discrimination, ED introduced relief measures in late July 2001 to place affected students.

Since the court ruling, the EOC has been working with the ED, school principals and international specialists to look into the issues involved. To this end, several sharing sessions were held to exchange views with the education sector regarding the result of the judicial review of the SSPA System and its impact on the current education system. In addition, a second conference "Boys and Girls in the 21st Century" featuring "Gender Differences in Learning" was held in November 2001 to gain insight and advice from both local and international experts.

The ED announced in December 2001 that the gender-based features of the SSPA System would be removed in order to abide by the Court ruling. In February 2002, the ED released new guidelines for internal assessments of Primary Five and Primary Six

 

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