Chinese students in Hong Kong unhappier than South Asian classmates: study

Survey indicates link between neglect of spiritual health and dissatisfaction with life, says education institute

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 6:47pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2014, 6:47pm

Chinese students in Hong Kong are more dissatisfied with their everyday lives and rate their spiritual happiness lower than their South Asian classmates, a new study has found.

A survey of 15,000 students from 28 secondary schools across the city by the Hong Kong Institute of Education found life satisfaction to be lowest among locals, Chinese immigrants and cross-boundary students.

South Asian students, about 90 per cent of them religious, expressed high satisfaction with their living environment, school, friends, family and themselves.

They also ranked higher than their Chinese counterparts in terms of valuing their personal relationships with the environment, the community and a “divine being”.

Dr Celeste Yuen Yuet-mui, an associate professor at the institute’s department of education policy and leadership, said the survey underscored the negative effects of the neglect of spiritual health in Hong Kong, and it’s relationship with life dissatisfaction among Chinese youth in the city.

She said higher life satisfaction among South Asians could be due to greater family kinship, ethnic communal acceptance and support within their ethnic community and social networks.

Chinese students, on the other hand, were being forced to put too much emphasis on academic grades and performance.

“Put simply, subjective well-being cannot be achieved by raising their academic achievements and/or living standards alone,” she said.

Yuen stressed that this should serve as a wake-up call for educators and parents to help youths integrate education about spirituality and values into school curriculums.

The students, who filled out questionnaires and were interviewed in person between last year and this year, came from a diverse range of social and economic backgrounds. About 75 per cent were locals, 16 per cent mainland immigrants, 4 per cent cross-boundary students and the rest South Asian.

The Hong Kong Institute of Education is a publicly-funded tertiary institution which trains primary and secondary schoolteachers.