Equal Opportunities Commission


Press Releases

Press Releases

EOC Releases the Results of a Study on Design & Technology and Home Economics in Secondary Schools


The EOC today (28 July 1999) released its results of a study on Design & Technology and Home Economics in secondary schools. Results of the study showed that co-educational schools offered both Design & Technology and Home Economics while most single sex schools only offered one of the subjects. All single-sex boy's schools only offered Design & Technology but 4% of single sex girl's schools offered both subjects. Only 14.5% of co-educational schools said that the pupils are free to select the subject they want to study; 21.8% said that the pupils take both subjects.

Reasons given for not giving pupils freedom of selection were:

- following past practice;

- administrative convenience;

- physical constraints relating to classroom size, teacher-pupil ratio; teaching resources; scheduling.

In releasing the study, Dr. Fanny Mui-ching Cheung, Chairperson of the EOC said, "The EOC wants to help the secondary schools comply with the laws and in order to do so we undertook a study to understand the current situation. The study shows that only a small number of the co-educational schools now allow either boys and girls the freedom of selection or require boys and girls to take both subjects. The restriction of study of Design & Technology and Domestic Science, on the basis of sex, not only reinforces gender stereotypes in our younger generation but also prevents boys and girls from developing skills which are of practical use to both sexes."

The EOC plans to organise a workshop in October 1999 so that the schools which now comply with the law and allow boys and girls the right to select the subject they want to study can share their operational experiences. In so doing, the schools that will need to change can see how their colleagues have overcome problems such as time-tabling, manpower, and other physical infrastructure problems.

According to the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, it is unlawful for an educational establishment to discriminate against a student in the way it affords him/her access to any benefits, facilities, or services. By restricting the study of the subject matter to one sex may then discriminate against an individual boy or girl who is not able to study Design & Technology or Home Economics on the ground of sex. A Formal Investigation in United Kingdom in 1987 also found such a restriction unlawful.

The study was based on a questionnaire sent to all secondary school principals in April 1999. In mid-June, over 200 responses were returned, representing a response rate of 55%.

Enquiry: EOC Hotline      25118211