Ethnic minority pupils suffer in post-secondary programs: study

August 11, 2015 18:12
Hong Kong Unison found that ethnic minority students have a much slimmer chance of getting into post-secondary school programs of their choice. Photo: RTHK

Ethnic minority students who seek post-secondary school programs in Hong Kong are facing some difficulties as several institutions conduct admission interviews in Cantonese and also stipulate compulsory language classes, a study has found.

The study conducted by Hong Kong Unison, an ethnic minority advocacy group, found that ethnic minority students have a much slimmer chance of getting into post-secondary school programs of their choice, RTHK reported.

According to Yip Ho-ling, a Unison research officer, 71 percent of 186 post-secondary education programs in the city are not suitable for students who do not know Chinese. The percentage drops to 50 percent to students who can speak Cantonese but are not able to read or write Chinese.

The number of post-secondary education programs conducted purely in English with Qualifications Framework Level 3 is only 19.

Yi Jin Diploma, which is more widely accepted and recognized, is only conducted in Chinese. It is argued that weaker the academic performance of the ethnic minority students, the narrower the study and career choices they have due to the Chinese language barrier.

Though non-Chinese speaking students can use alternative qualifications in Chinese language (ACL) results such as GCE, GCSE and IGCSE to replace HKDSE Chinese language results, Unison found that only 20 percent of 30 higher and tertiary education institutions are accepting ACL results as minimum entrance requirements.

Ten percent of them replied that ACL results are not considered.

For its survey, Unison made inquiries on phone or by email during June and July regarding admission criteria and program details of 553 post-secondary education programs. Responses were received on 257 programs, of which only 186 provided full information.

Unison pointed out that some post-secondary education institutions are using English as the medium of instruction. However, their interviews are still conducted in Chinese, putting the ethnic minority students who are non-Chinese-speakers at a disadvantage.

The organization urged the government to fix the lacunae in the system to safeguard the interests of ethnic minority students in Hong Kong.

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