EOC advocates for effective Chinese language support for ethnic minority students
Members of the Policy and Research Committee (PARC) of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) met with the Permanent Secretary for Education (PSED), Mrs. Cherry TSE LING kit-ching, today (27 September 2012), to discuss the provision of effective Chinese language support in early education for ethnic minority (EM) students.
Since the release of the EOC Report on the Working Group on Education for EM in July 2011, the Commission has made repeated appeals to the Education Bureau (EDB) to take concrete steps to tackle the problems EM students faced in learning Chinese, which has hindered their access to higher education and employment opportunities in Hong Kong.
To urge the new Government to narrow the learning gap by devising effective support measures for EM students, EOC Members met with Mr. LEUNG Chun-ying, the then Chief Executive-elect in June this year.
Deputy Convenor of the PARC, Dr. John TSE Wing-ling, said, “We are glad that the Chief Executive was receptive to the EOC’s appeal that the education system must support and improve the ability of ethnic minorities students to learn the Chinese language.”
“In today’s meeting with the PSED, the EOC hopes to bring to her attention that the current Government approaches have failed to meet the needs of EM students in attaining an adequate level of Chinese language that would enable them to compete on an equal footing with their local Chinese counterparts in both the realm of higher education and the employment market,” said Dr. TSE.
Currently, the majority of EM students are placed in ‘designated schools’, which provide a poor environment for learning Chinese and inevitably give rise to racial segregation rather than integration. Dr. TSE said, “The EOC suggested the EDB reviewing the policy of ‘designated schools’ with due consideration to the long term impacts on the educational and career paths of EM graduates who eventually have to integrate with their Chinese counterparts in post-secondary institutes and the workforce.”
Dr. TSE emphasized the importance of strengthening early Chinese language support for EM students at the pre-primary stage. “The pre-primary years are a critical period for language acquisition. If students are able to build a solid foundation in the Chinese language during the kindergarten years, their parents would feel more comfortable to place their children into mainstream primary schools,” he explained.
Dr. TSE reiterated EOC’s recommendation of developing an alternative Chinese curriculum/assessment framework for EM students so as to accurately and fairly reflect their Chinese proficiency for education and employment purposes. He also urged the Government to create an improved data collection system for policy formulation and enhancement of support measures for EM students.
“It is high time for the EDB to face the issue and adopt a supportive and integrative language policy for EM students. These students are part of Hong Kong’s tomorrow. Depriving them of equal opportunities in education is not only discriminatory, but also weakens Hong Kong’s competitive edge globally,” Dr. TSE emphasized.
Other PARC and EOC Members attending the meeting included : Ms. CHAN Ka-mun, Carmen; Dr. KOONG May-kay, Maggie; Ms. Agnes LAU; Mr. Zaman Minhas QAMAR; Mr. TSE Wai-chun, Paul; Ms. WONG Ka-ling and Mr. YIP Siu-hong, Nelson.
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Equal Opportunities Commission
27 September 2012