There’s a shortage of Islamic schools in Hong Kong, not just mosques

Parents of Hong Kong’s young Muslims feel short-changed by the city’s education system

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 August, 2016, 7:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 August, 2016, 7:00am

As well as a dearth of mosques in Hong Kong, there’s also a shortage of Islamic schools. Muslim children, who are overwhelmingly from ethnic minorities, must attend one of 20 designated schools where only rudimentary Chinese is taught, study in mainstream schools, or go to one of five Islamic schools operated by the Chinese Muslim Cultural and Fraternal Association (CMCFA) in the city.

Yusuf Yu Chi-wan, council member of the United Muslim Association and former principal of one of the five Islamic schools – Islamic Kasim Tuet Memorial College – says such Islamic schools have a stronger focus on the Muslim faith than mainstream schools.

“They adopt the same curriculum, leading to the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education, as local schools. The difference is that Islam is a subject there. There’s halal food in the canteen and children wear Islamic uniforms. Activities and teaching are also geared towards Islamic values.”

Although Muslim parents prefer to send their children to such schools, Yu says many cannot do so because they are geographically far apart from each other.

Unable to build, Hong Kong’s growing Muslim ranks worship in makeshift mosques

“There’s no through-train school system leading from kindergarten all the way to secondary school under the CMCFA umbrella. The five schools comprise two kindergartens, in Shau Kei Wan and Tsing Yi, primary schools in Wong Tai Sin and Tuen Mun, and a secondary school in Chai Wan. After finishing lower school, the students can’t progress to an upper school because they are all in different districts. The lack of a through-train Islamic school system is a big problem for us.”