Poverty blocks path to education

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 January, 2005, 12:00am


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Young people from poor families do not believe they are doomed to remain in poverty but are less confident about achieving high education levels than those from better-off backgrounds, a survey shows. The survey by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups found their weak confidence could be due to lack of parental support to pursue their career aspirations.

These teenagers are more likely to come from single-parent families, have less-educated parents or be immigrants from the mainland.

Among 464 students interviewed last month, 226 were from low-income backgrounds - defined by the government as a family of four on less than $8,000 a month.

Nearly 70 per cent from both groups thought they had the ability to get a university degree. Yet only 34 per cent from the poorer group thought they could fulfil their dreams, compared with 49 per cent of the wealthier group. Poorer students spent $1,147 on extra-curricular classes during a half-year period while the richer group spent $2,514.

Rosanna Wong Yick-ming, executive director of the federation, said: 'The [teenagers] do not identify that poor parents have poor kids. It shows there is room for social mobility, but we need to look at where the barriers are.'

Dr Wong gave the example of a teenager who was unwilling to tell her parents she wanted to study arts and music because she thought it would cost too much.