The EOC introduces the “Racial Equality and School Uniform” Guide
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) today (6 June 2014) introduced a Guide on “Racial Equality and School Uniforms” (the Guide) to provide guidance to schools in the development and implementation of uniform rules in accordance with the principles of equality.
The EOC Chairperson, Dr. York CHOW, said, “In a multicultural society as Hong Kong, students come from diverse backgrounds and have different needs. While school uniform rules are generally legitimate, they may affect students’ equality rights in some instances.”
Dr. CHOW said, “As religious and cultural practices are often linked to racial identity, it would be appropriate for school uniform rules to respect and take into account the cultural, religious and racial practices of the students.”
“For instance, some cultures and religions require their followers to conform to a particular dress code or to outwardly manifest their belief by wearing or carrying specific items. Where a student’s religion constitutes part of his/her race, the school may have to be flexible and accommodate the student’s special needs by allowing deviations from the school uniform policy,” he explained.
Dr. CHOW emphasized, “Schools are places where students learn to respect certain disciplines, socialize with other students from various backgrounds, and to prepare themselves for participation in the community, so uniforms should not give any hindrance to their intellectual, physical and social development.”
In particular, it may contravene the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO) if some imposed requirements or conditions indirectly discriminate against certain racial groups.
“In view of the complexity of the issue, the EOC produced the Guide to assist schools in developing and implementing uniform rules that are racially and culturally inclusive.” Dr. CHOW remarked.
“The EOC suggests the schools to adopt an inclusive and transparent process in devising their school uniform policy and related rules, whereby parents, students and relevant community leaders should be consulted as appropriate. Apart from racial equality, other forms of equality such as disability and gender equality should also be considered in making school uniform rules,” Dr. CHOW added.
The Guide will be published in eight languages, namely Chinese, English, Urdu, Nepali, Tagalog, Thai, Hindi and Indonesian, and distributed to all the primary and secondary schools. The full text of Guide is also available on the EOC website at http://www.eoc.org.hk/eoc/Upload/booklets/schoolUniform/2014_02.pdf.
The EOC will organize seminars to promote better understanding of the Guide among school administrators, headmasters and teachers. Invitations to the seminars have been extended to all school personnel. Interested parties can call the EOC hotline at 2511-8211 for enquiries.
For media enquiries, please contact Ms. Mariana LAW at 2106-2226.
Equal Opportunities Commission
6 June 2014