Equal Opportunities Commission

Sex bias lawsuit tackles secondary allocation system

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 July, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 July, 2000, 12:00am

THE Equal Opportunities Commission has launched a discrimination lawsuit against the Education Department, claiming it has been using a sexist system to allocate secondary school places for 16 years.

The writ, filed yesterday in the High Court, said the system of ranking boys and girls separately breached the Sex Discrimination Ordinance.

The commission is seeking a judicial review of the schools allocation system and wants to declare the Director of Education's decision to maintain the system unlawful.

'The commission found elements within the secondary schools place allocation system to be unlawful as they discriminate on the basis of sex and result in individual boys and girls receiving less favourable treatment on the basis of sex,' the writ claimed.

The writ says that unlawful aspects of the system remain despite an announcement on July 4 that the examination used in the allocation process would be eliminated.

An investigation conducted by the commission into the school allocation system in 1998 concluded that the policy involved sex discrimination in three areas: Boys and girls are separated in the banding process, resulting in different scores dividing the bands which determine what secondary schools they will attend; Boys and girls in the same school have their final grades allocated separately and are ranked within their sex; Co-educational schools are required to admit a fixed proportion of boys and girls, regardless of academic results.

Despite repeated requests to review the system, the Government has said there were sound reasons to support it.