Closing the Gap: The EOC Releases the Second Report of the Working Group on Education for Ethnic Minorities to Provide Recommendations on the Chinese Language Learning System for Ethnic Minority Students
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) today (25 September 2019) released the second report of EOC Working Group on Education for Ethnic Minorities to provide recommendations from its review of the Chinese language learning system for ethnic minority (EM) students.
“Education issues of ethnic minorities have long been a strategic priority area for the EOC, given that education is an effective means of empowerment. Since the Race Discrimination Ordinance(RDO) came into force in 2009, the EOC has constantly reflected our concerns and recommendations to the government, the Legislative Council and the United Nations on achieving equal educational opportunities for ethnic minority students,” said Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson of the EOC.
The “Education for All” report was issued by the first EOC Working Group on Education for Ethnic Minorities in 2011 and numerous subsequent submissions have been made to the Government and Legislative Council on improving ethnic minority students’ learning of Chinese language and integration in schools. However, despite some new support measures including the Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Learning Framework (Learning Framework) instituted by the Education Bureau for non-Chinese speaking students, uncertainties and inadequacies in the policies and their implementation remain. In light of these continued concerns with regards to EM education, the Working Group was reconvened with members from the EOC Board and outside experts in January 2018.
Over the course of a year and a quarter, the Working Group collected feedback from various stakeholders, including language experts, teachers, principals, NGOs, EM parents, non-Chinese speaking students and employers, through group sharing sessions, individual interviews and school visits; and came up with the Report. In total, 12 group sharing sessions, eight individual interviews and three school visits were conducted; and 170 stakeholders were met by the Working Group.
The Working Group has identified the following eight major concerns based on feedback from stakeholders:
|i.||Gaps in the Learning Framework|
|ii.||Unclear indicators to measure the progress of the Learning Framework|
|iii.||Insufficient teacher training and support|
|iv.||Available Chinese examinations either too hard for second-language learners or too low in standard|
|v.||Limited knowledge and access to information for EM parents on school choice and examination options for their|
|vi.||Need for more integration in schools|
|vii.||Lack of continuing Chinese learning opportunities beyond secondary school|
Inadequate parental support and community support
In the comprehensive Report by the Working Group issued today, the EOC made 22 recommendations for action to address the above concerns. These recommendations can be categorised into three main areas:
|i.||Equal opportunities for EM students in acquiring Chinese language proficiency as second-language learners|
|ii.||Chinese language acquisition and qualifications for EM students to have equal opportunities in academic and career|
|iii.||Racial integration in schools|
(For more details, please refer to the Report: https://www.eoc.org.hk/S/ClosingtheGap)
Dr. Rizwan ULLAH, Convener of the Working Group, said, “Education is a protected area of the RDO. It is also the Hong Kong Government’s responsibility to provide equal educational opportunities for the EM community in accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Many of the Working Group’s recommendations are reflections of long-held concerns and need speedy action. There are three top recommendations made by the Working Group. It strongly recommends plugging the gaps in the existing system in order to have in place a full-fledged Chinese-as-a second language curriculum. This was a recommendation in the first report as well and has been reiterated by NGOs and others over the years.”
Dr ULLAH added, “The second recommendation of priority is for better and systematic teacher training. Recognising that teaching of a language to second-language learners requires a different set of skills, it is high time we create a pool of teachers teaching Chinese-as-a-second language similar to what exists for English such as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). The third recommendation of priority is to introduce a structured Chinese language examination ladder that caters to the range of different needs of non-ethnic Chinese students. A host of reasonable options have been suggested by experts, teachers and other stakeholders in the Report. The EOC strongly urges the Government to consider these options in order to provide a level playing field for ethnic minorities in tertiary education as well as the job market.”
Mr Ricky CHU, Chairperson of the EOC, concluded, “It is our responsibility as well as in our interest to ensure that all members of society, and EMs are certainly no exception, can pursue their dreams on a level playing field and live their lives without discrimination. This goal cannot be achieved without the cooperation of policy makers, public service providers and all stakeholders involved. The EOC looks forward to discussing our recommendations with the Government and all other parties concerned to address the learning gaps between the EM and Chinese students.”
EOC representatives including Mr Ricky CHU Man-kin, Chairperson (centre), Dr Ferrick CHU Chung-man, Acting Chief Operations Officer (first from right), Dr Rizwan ULLAH, Convener of EOC Working Group on Education for Ethnic Minorities (second from right) and Mr Raymond HO Wing-keung, Senior Officer of the Ethnic Minorities Unit (second from left), presented the findings and recommendations of the Report at the press conference today. EM Parent Ms Herdip KAUR (first from left) also shared her child’s experience of Chinese education in mainstream schools.
Equal Opportunities Commission
25 September 2019