The EOC Reports on Work Plans and Progress on Policy and Research
Members of the Policy and Research Committee (PARC) of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) met on 26 July 2012 (Thursday) at the 14th PARC Meeting and discussed various matters related to the Commission’s work on research and advocacy.
Members discussed the EOC’s new initiative of a pilot scheme to empower the parents of ethnic minority (EM) kindergarten students in helping their children to learn and adapt at schools. Due to language barriers and limited social network, most EM parents have little knowledge and information about the education system in Hong Kong. The pilot service focused on providing information to EM parents about the education system and the paths for their children, promoting parental involvement and support in children’s learning, and facilitating interactions between EM parents and other parents.
The NGOs participating in the pilot scheme started their support service in March/April 2012. Sharing sessions were offered to EM parents on information about the Hong Kong education system, choosing between designated and mainstream primary schools, enhancement of parent-child home reading, and Chinese language classes, etc.
Members were pleased to learn that most participants found the programmes useful, especially in encouraging their communication with schools and training on home reading / story-telling for their children. The programmes also enhanced interactions and sharing between EM parents and local Chinese parents, and appreciation of the culture and customs of different ethnic groups. Some EM parents expressed that they felt more ready and comfortable to participate in school activities which were mostly attended by local Chinese parents previously. Local Chinese parents found the programmes effective in breaking down cultural and communication barriers that might create misunderstanding. All participating kindergartens found the scheme helpful in enhancing communication between the school and EM parents. The teachers recognized that the role of the programme worker was far more than an interpreter but also a facilitator who helped EM parents to be more involved in their children’s education. The teachers also noticed that EM parents were more ready to check their children’s homework and more participative in school activities.
The Education Bureau (EDB) was informed of the positive feedback of the participating parents and kindergartens. In view of the usefulness and effectiveness of the pilot scheme, Members strongly urged the EDB to provide funding to support the service scheme so that the programmes could be extended to all kindergartens with EM children.
Members also deliberated on the proposal of “Funding Research Projects by the PARC”, which was a programme to invite interested parties to submit funding applications to the Committee with research proposals on subjects relevant to the work of the EOC. In the past years, research projects had been initiated either by the EOC Office or in response to suggestions from Members and stakeholders. The new initiative would allow the EOC to capture a wider pool of talents to undertake innovative research projects that promote the concepts of equal opportunities. Members emphasized the importance of exercising stringent quality control in the selection of research projects so as to ensure the prudent use of public funds. In the meeting, Members discussed the detailed guidelines on the funding principles, eligibility of applicants, scope and nature of projects to be considered, ceiling of financial assistance to be provided, and the monitoring of funded research projects.
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Equal Opportunities Commission
26 July 2012