Education for All: the EOC Urges the Education Bureau to Ensure Equal Education Opportunities for Ethnic Minority Students in Hong Kong
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) called on the Education Bureau (EDB) today (11 July 2011) to ensure equal access to quality education for ethnic minority (EM) students, many of whom continue to face significant barriers in their academic pursuit.
In recognition of the various challenges faced by EM students in academic attainment, of which learning Chinese remains the greatest, the EOC established the Working Group on Education for Ethnic Minorities in July 2010 to explore measures to provide EM students with a level playing field in the education system. In the comprehensive Report by the Working Group issued today, the EOC made nine recommendations for actions by the EDB, including:
- Long-term and multi-pronged assistance and support for EM students, from language and cultural programmes for EM children at the pre-primary level to help them learn Chinese and integrate in the mainstream primary schools, to setting up a special one-stop service for education and career counseling for EM students. Guidance should also be given to schools in curriculum design and adaptation of teaching materials in Chinese language for non-Chinese speaking students;
- Development of an appropriate Chinese Proficiency Programme and Testing System (CPPTS) to provide an alternative means of assessing language qualification, for further education and vocation purposes;
- Early intervention and support for EM students with special education needs, who face double disadvantages;
- Advancing public education on respect for diversity in order to create an inclusive school environment.
For more details, please refer to the Report (Attachment A).
In Hong Kong, the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO) protects the right of every individual to equal education irrespective of race. Under RDO, it is unlawful to discriminate a person on the ground of the person’s race in education and other protected areas such as employment.
Mr. LAM Woon-kwong, Chairperson of the EOC, said, “Education is a basic right of every child. Hong Kong, as a model of openness and inclusion, must ensure that every individual can enjoy this fundamental right regardless of their racial background. This allows our human capital to be best utilized. More importantly, it encourages our young people to believe that Hong Kong, true to its reputation, is genuinely a place of equal opportunities, and that, with hard work, a better future is possible.”
To make information about the education system more accessible to EM parents and advise them of their children’s equal rights to education with particular reference to the RDO, the EOC also published a pamphlet entitled ‘Education for All’. The pamphlet has been produced in Chinese and English, as well as in six ethnic minority languages.
The Report and recommendations were compiled from information gathered by the Working Group, which organized three sharing sessions with stakeholders from November 2010 to January 2011 to ascertain the concerns and views of the community as well as to identify possible solutions and improvement measures. Members of the teaching profession, EM parents and students, and NGOs serving the EM community attended the sessions. The Working Group also held a meeting with the EDB on 4 April 2011 to exchange views on enhancing equal education opportunities for EM students.
Equal Opportunities Commission
11 July 2011