EOC Advises on Secondary School Places Allocation System Complaints Procedures
On 22 June 2001, the High Court ruled that the Secondary School Places Allocation (SSPA) System, as administered by the Education Department, is unlawful and discriminatory. Since then, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has received a number of enquiries from parents regarding what they should do if their children are discriminated against in the current allocation exercise.
The EOC is advising parents that they have a statutory right to lodge complaints with the EOC if they feel that their children have been unlawfully discriminated against. While parents have the right to lodge complaints with the EOC, in the interim they can deal directly with the Education Department if they wish to in order to secure a better school place for their children.
Once the EOC receives such complaints, it will investigate them and endeavour to conciliate them. Where conciliation is not successful, complainants may apply to the EOC for legal assistance to bring proceedings in court. Complaints to the EOC should be made within 12 months. In view of the court’s ruling that the gender-based mechanisms in the SSPA are unlawful, the investigation process of the EOC is made simple.
Ms. Anna Wu, Chairperson of the EOC, said, “The EOC looks forward to the Education Department devising a new system, free of discrimination and unlawfulness, within a reasonable time scale and in time for next year’s allocation exercise. To help the Education Department achieve this, the EOC is prepared to recommend suitable local and overseas experts with experience in devising fairer systems.”
Ms. Wu added that, “The Education Department has an obligation to come up with a concrete proposal and timetable for change promptly, and to make it clear to students, parents, and school authorities alike to know what their position is,” said Ms. Wu, “The High Court has declared that the current SSPA violates the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, and has called on the Director of Education to honour its findings.”
A special complaint form for the SSPA has been developed and is available on the EOC website: http://www.eoc.org.hk. Complaint forms can be faxed to 2511-8142 or 2511-8224, for further enquiries please call our hotline 2511-8211, or e-mail us via email@example.com.
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