Multiculturalism in Action: Nepali Culture Workshop
Session 2: Education for Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong’s School
Guest Speakers: Dr. Wai-chi Chee, Dr. Rizwan Ullah, and Mrs. Riama Gurung Shah
|From left: Prof. Tam, Dr. Chee, Dr. Ullah, and Mrs. Shah|
A discussion panel on education for Nepalis in Hong Kong was held on October 11, 2014. Dr. Chee Wai-Chee, Dr. Rizman Ullah, and Mrs. Raima Shah made a presentation from their experiences and research on education issues in Hong Kong.
|Dr. Chee giving a presentation|
Dr. Chee’s presentation focused on three aspects of the education for ethnic minorities in Hong Kong—challenges, opportunities, and transitions. According to the Population Census 2011, ethnic minorities made up 6.4% of the total population in Hong Kong. Studies estimated that only 10% of the ethnic minority youth would go on to post-secondary education. With little chance of receiving higher education, Nepalis consisted 42.3% of the labor force in elementary occupations.
Dr. Chee pointed out that the challenges for ethnic students are structural. These included the 3-band school ranking, the education policy of biliteracy and trilingualism, and the lack of parental support in learning. For opportunities, Dr. Chee mentioned the Education Department’s plan to promote Chinese as a Second Language, and the decline of birth rate which has made ethnic minority student an important source of student intake for less competitive schools. In her research she found that both parents and children have high aspirations for the future.
|Dr. Ullah explaining the concept of multiculturalism|
Dr. Ullah explained how multiculturalism was linked to pluralism and equality. Sharing his own upbringing in Hong Kong, he found that minority groups often were victims of stereotypes and prejudices.According to Dr. Ullah’s research, the official curriculum has failed the minority students.
|Q and A session|
Mrs. Shah was born in Hong Kong as a daughter of a Gurkha soldier. She went to school inside the Gurkha camp, which followed the curriculum in Nepal. After the Handover students were forced to switch to the local curriculum. She remembered she had Nepali teachers from Nepal, and they were able to celebrate all the traditional Nepali festivals in school before the Handover. Evenly so, she did not think she understood Nepali culture completely. Yet, she felt grateful for the Hong Kong Government for giving equal education opportunity to all, at least in the kindergarten sector. In her daily experience as a kindergarten teacher, a lot of ethnic minority parents wanted to teach their children Chinese, but they lacked Cantonese proficiency themselves. She noticed a significant rise in Nepali students in her kindergarten since she started to work there, because the parents preferred teachers who understood their culture and wereable to communicate with them.