Education best way to end discrimination against disabled in Hong Kong
Discrimination against people with disabilities still persists in many societies, with cases reported where such people have been bullied and harassed.
The best way to counter this problem, and hopefully eliminate all prejudice, is by raising levels of public awareness.
Education is needed and it should start with children in schools, so that young people grow up with the right mindset free of prejudice. Hopefully, as adults they will then accept all citizens as equals, including those with disabilities.
There are different ways to structure this education programme and it should include talks by keynote speakers. People with disabilities can explain to pupils the difficulties they have faced in their lives, including being discriminated against.
There could also be class visits to hospitals and centres where disabled people meet and work, and young people could be encouraged to do voluntary work.
Enabling them to interact with disabled citizens can help them to develop greater empathy and they will realise early in life that discrimination of any kind is wrong.
Children are more open and accepting than adults. Older people may already have preconceived notions and often with a high-pressure, high-stress way of life, they may find it difficult to change their views even when this leads to irrational discrimination against those who are different in any way.
With young people, the key is to clear up misconceptions they might have imbibed, for example, from older people.
However, we should not just rely on students. We all have a duty to be free of prejudice and to want to see a society where everyone is treated fairly.
I see a stable society as being like a large family, and everyone is a part of it and should be offered help when they need it.
It is very important for society that all citizens show tolerance towards each other.
Natalli Lo, Tseung Kwan O