Monday, December 05, 2011

Discrimination in Education

Racial discrimination in a well-known fact in the education system in USA.   Asian Americans make up only 6% of the US population; but they are over-achievers in education.  If admission to university is racially-blind, there should be a lot more Asians in US universities.   University of California, Berkeley, which is forbidden by state law to consider race for admission, is 40% Asian, compared to 20% before the law [SCMP, 5 Dec., 2011].  This has been attributed to many factors: emphasis on academic achievement in the Asian culture, family support, tiger moms, etc.  But the over-achievement is an unmistakable fact. 

However, a study by Princeton sociology professor Thomas Espenshade, using admission data to private colleges in 1997, found that African-American applicants with SAT scores of 1150 had the same chances of being accepted as white applicants with 1460s and Asian applicants with perfect 1600s [The Daily Princetonian, 12 Oct., 2009]  Asians have to have much better academic results than whites and blacks in order to get accepted in elite universities in the USA. 

On the other hand, what is the situation in Hong Kong?  You might be excused in thinking that the Chinese should have an advantage in gaining admission to elite schools in Hong Kong.  But you would be wrong.   Many local families would love to send their children to international secondary schools.  But the percentage of local students who could attend international schools (built on government land) is limited at 50%.  And the government is planning to further limit it to 30%. 

One might find this to be understandable, if not acceptable, in colonial days.  But in post-colonial  Hong Kong?  We could be the only place in the world who discriminates against its own people in its own country.

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