Hong Kong’s ethnic minority children need higher-education support, not just handouts
I refer to the letter from Phyllis Cheung of Hong Kong Unison on measures to support non-Chinese-speaking (NCS) pupils in Hong Kong (“How Hong Kong’s non-Chinese-speaking ethnic minority pupils can benefit from targeted government budget support”, March 15).
Cheung calls for using part of the HK$500 million set aside for supporting ethnic minorities to be used to develop a systematic Chinese curriculum for NCS pupils. I share this view.
The only sustainable way to facilitate upward mobility for Hong Kong’s ethnic minorities is education. These communities have low social status and are employed in low-skill jobs mainly because they are not able to communicate fluently in Cantonese and so are not companies’ first choices when recruiting staff.
If we can put more resources into education, nurturing ethnic minority children when they are young so that language is not a barrier to learning, their prospects would be as bright as the majority population’s. This would also break the stereotype that ethnic minorities are poorly educated and low-skilled workers. Therefore, educating the ethnic minority population is more sustainable and useful than granting them aid for basic necessities.
In addition, I suggest the government provide subsidies to NCS pupils for tertiary education. As many ethnic minority families are living in poverty, meeting their daily needs is difficult, let alone paying heavy tuition fees for university. Rather than spending money on further education with unstable returns, they tend to find jobs after school to earn money quickly.
If the government provided NCS pupils with subsidies for tertiary education, they could achieve higher academic qualifications and enhance their competitiveness in the job market. Thus, they would be more able to find highly paid jobs to improve their standard of living.
Finally, if we want to help NCS pupils in Hong Kong, we must put aside our prejudices. Otherwise, no measure can be effectively carried out.
Darren Chan, Wong Tai Sin