7 October 2015
Ethnic minorities in Hong Kong are "marginalised" by the education system, says a university study.
It found children of minority families do not get enough support to learn Cantonese - putting them behind in school and causing long-term problems in the jobs market.
"One of the main barriers to equal access has been a de facto racial segregation of ethnic minority students from Chinese students in the public school system," says University of Hong Kong law professor, Puja Kapai, who carried out the study.
The practice of communities studying separately has also meant that children grow up without interacting with other cultures.
Hong Kong is home to 365,000 ethnic minority people, making up 6% of its total population. Communities of Indians, Pakistanis, Nepalese and Filipinos have lived in Hong Kong for generations.
But the city still lacks a curriculum for children speaking Chinese as a second language, which would enable them to learn Cantonese, a requirement for many jobs and university places.
"The language requirement that forms a barrier for ethnic minorities to receive equal access in education and the labour market, can be seen as an indirect form of discrimination," says Raymond Ho, a senior member of the Equal Opportunities Commission in Hong Kong.
But he is confident that since the government made it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of race in 2009, there is more public awareness of the needs of ethnic minorities.
In the past there have been claims that Chinese locals are "less accepting" of people with darker skin. That was the claim of a report in 2008 from Unison, a group that campaigns for the rights of ethnic minorities.
This acceptance level was found to be lowest in the education sector...
Prof Kapai's report emphasises interlinked problems for minority groups.
A lack of Cantonese language skills will present barriers in employment, leading to an increase in poverty, and difficulty accessing healthcare. Cantonese language proficiency is a core requirement for some jobs, such as the civil service. Typical occupations taken up by ethnic minorities are in the catering, construction and manual labour industries.... Click here to read the full article.