Public Consultation on Code of Practice on Education under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) announced today (15 January 2001) that a proposed Code of Practice on Education (the Code) under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO) has been published for public consultation.
The public consultation period will last for eleven weeks from 15 January to 31 March 2001.
At a media briefing, Ms. Anna WU, Chairperson of the EOC stressed the importance of ensuring equal opportunities in education for a person with a disability. Ms. WU said, "Integration or inclusion in education is the global trend. This concept is also in line with the underlying principle of the education reform currently undertaken in Hong Kong, which is “Education for all" .
"While the law does not require students with disabilities to study in mainstream schools, the right of the student or parent to choose should be respected. They should not be denied the option just because of the disability of the student," Ms. WU added.
Ms. WU explained that the Code was designed to assist stakeholders in the education field, such as school principals, teachers, staff of an educational establishment, parents and students, to have a better understanding of their rights and obligations under the DDO.
"The Code aims to provide practical guidelines to good practices in educational establishments which will help to eliminate disability discrimination and harassment in the educational field." Ms. WU said.
Mr. Frederick TONG, Director (Disability) of the EOC, presented an overview of the proposed Code on Education. He highlighted practical issues such as student admission systems, concepts of reasonable accommodations and unjustifiable hardship, formulation of equal opportunities policies in schools and provision of staff training.
In addressing the concerns of some of the school operators in implementing the Code, Ms. WU pointed out that the EOC had been collaborating with the Education Department (ED) in ensuring that necessary support would be provided to the schools. She said that the ED had a programme to review the accessibility of all existing schools and carry out the improvement works where it was technically feasible.
Ms. WU said, "The ED has been allocated funds to carry out urgent works when the need arises, and assistive equipment on loan to schools or students. The Department has a pool of experts to provide professional advice".
The Code is being widely distributed to schools and concern groups for comments. Consultation meetings will be organized from mid-January to the end of March 2001. Members of the public can obtain copies of the Code from District Offices, the EOC office and its website (http://www.eoc.org.hk).
"Public views and comments will be appropriately incorporated in the Code before it is tabled at the Legislative Council (Legco) in June 2001. Subject to a decision by Legco, it is hoped that the Code can come into effect in July 2001," Ms. WU said.
15 January 2001
Equal Opportunities Commission
Enquiry: EOC Hotline 25118211