Ethnic minority students in Hong Kong suffer at school and work due to prejudice, language

  • The Equal Opportunities Commission study revealed these students aim higher in education and their careers
  • The report said employers tend to associate ethnic minorities with refugees and criminal activities
Wong Tsui-kai |

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Dr Rizwan ULLAH, Deputy Convener of the Policy, Research and Training Committee of the EOC (third from left), Mr CHONG Yiu-kwong, Co-opted Member of the Policy, Research and Training Committee of the EOC (first from left), Dr Ferrick CHU, Executive Director (Operations) of the EOC (first from right), along with Dr Simon CHAN (second from left), Dr CHAN Bing-kwan (third from right), Dr Esther CHO (centre) and Dr CHAN Yee-may (second from right) from the research team of Hong Kong Baptist University presented the findings and recommendations of the Report at the press conference.

Ethnic minority students have higher educational and career aspirations than ethnic Chinese students, but they struggle because of the lack of proficiency in Chinese, a study has revealed.

According to the study by Baptist University and the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), employers recognise but do not report racial discrimination in the workplace.

The study has also revealed that low Chinese literacy is a major obstacle to employment.

Meanwhile, other employers say they are less likely to hire ethnic minority graduates because of negative stereotypes. Hong Kong’s first ethnic minority social worker on discrimination and building bridges

People tend to link ethnic minorities with refugees, illegal labour and criminal activities. Employers are also worried that their Chinese employees might not want to work with staff from ethnic minorities.

More than one-third of employers only advertise in Chinese, and most employers have little intention of hiring ethnic minority staff recommended by Labour Department and NGO employment programmes.

The term “ethnic minority” itself is also viewed as discriminatory by some, suggesting alternative terms such as “people from multicultural background”. YouTuber Zain Syed on stereotypes, culture, and being treated like a foreigner in his hometown

Dr Rizwan Ullah, deputy convenor of the EOC’s policy, research and training committee, said: “For the majority of employers, there is a series of obstacles to hiring ethnic minorities.”

In addition to the obstacles already mentioned, other issues include “segregated recruitment channels and negative previous experience”.

The report recommends establishing a Chinese-language curriculum tailored to ethnic minority students in schools, and setting up courses for ethnic minorities to help turn the workplace into a multicultural environment. It also suggests improving job-matching platforms by using more languages and expanding internship programmes for ethnic minority students.