Fighting the system

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 October, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 October, 2006, 12:00am

The human cost of a lack of services for ethnic minorities manifests itself in Fermi Wong

Wai-fun's office every day.

She cited the case of four Nepali youngsters, aged 14 to 15, who had just arrived in Hong Kong and this week turned to her for help in finding a school.

'I called all four schools that take in ethnic minorities but they all said no vacancies,' she said.

'I called the headquarters of the Education and Manpower Bureau [EMB] but they told me to talk to the regional offices. One person who picked up the phone refused to deal with me. I finally got through, but I'm not receiving any proper responses from them.'

According to the Education Ordinance, children under the age of 15 must be sent by their parents to attend school.

Two other Nepali boys, Anjaan and Annuj Limbu, both 14, failed an entrance exam at Sir Ellis Kadoorie School and could not get admission. But with the limited options for English-medium schools in Hong Kong, Ms Wong fears they may become victims of the system, as once they turn 15 the EMB is not obliged to help them.

An EMB spokesman said: 'Whenever a case comes to our attention, whether the children are under the age of 15 or above the age of 15, we will offer help.'