Thursday, October 31, 2013

Education of ethnic minorities

This is something that we should be ashamed of.  It is also something that we have known already for some time, but as a society, do not bother to do something concrete to address. 

Starting with kindergarten, the south asian children in Hong Kong fall behind Chinese children already.  Twice or three times as many of them do not attend kindergarten.  The problem is probably a combination of finances as well as language.  Kindergarten is not free, and most of them teach in Chinese. 

The situation continues into primary school, secondary school, and university.  I have been teaching in a university for 20 years, and I can count the number of south asian students that I have taught on one hand. The data in the graphic appeared in SCMP, and is the result of research conducted by HKIE.  It confirms what many of us know from experience.  

It is a shame because Hong Kong is affluent enough to address the inequality but we don’t.  Our education system for the majority of the Chinese students is full of problems.  But our children come out of it with a reasonable level of competency.  But much of the ethnic minorities, mostly south asians, are not provided with that opportunity. 

[Some NGOs and others are trying to help.  As part of our service-learning program, some students from our university are teaching Chinese to some of the ethnic minorities and refugees in Hong Kong.  But the impact so far is very limited in view of the scale of the problem and official apathy.]

We Chinese often complain of being discriminated against, when we go to foreign countries such as Europe, North America and Australia.  But we treat the ethnic minorities among us no better. What hypocrites we are. 


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