Hong Kong is home to many ethnic minority people (non-Chinese), mainly from South or Southeast Asia (e.g. Pakistan, India, Nepal, Philippines or Indonesia). There is no consistent policy and guidance for ethnic minority students in HK. Unlike policy designed to help mainland Chinese students and disabled students adapt and integrate into the education system, the HK government still lacks a conceptual model for educating and integrating minority students – even though they are living in HK often in the 3rd and 4th generation. The main issues for ethnic minority young people include: 1. Limited choice of schools: Over 60% of ethnic minorities students are concentrated in about 10 public secondary schools (some proposed for work under this grant). Students from these schools are therefore generally disconnected from the mainstream society and lack interaction with Hong Kong Chinese students. Racial segregation brings long-term harmful effects.2. Relatively low quality of education in the available educational institutions, also with lower standards compared to mainstream schools. 3. Shortage of opportunities to learn spoken Cantonese and written Chinese to compete effectively with the mainstream: Ethnic minority students are usually taught a very low level of Cantonese/Chinese. According to the 2016 Population By-census Thematic Report: Ethnic Minorities, less than 40% of young people (age 15-24) can read Chinese, and less than 30% can write Chinese, compared to over 96% in the whole population. Language ability is a key factor affecting employability, further studies, and community integration of ethnic minority families and young people. Owing to the undesirable (learning) environment, these youth generally have low aspirations to become successful in Hong Kong with a strong sense of hopelessness. The current situation – where ethnic minority young people have limited opportunities for personal development and are often overlooked by teachers, family members, and the society – seriously impedes their employment and social mobility, and perpetuates the poverty cycle in which they are trapped (poverty rate of South Asians: 25.7%; whole HK population: 19.9%).
Hong Kong Unison (HK Unison) is a non-governmental organization founded in 2001 focusing its work on ethnic minority Hong Kong residents and their families. HK Unison was founded by Ms. Fermi Wong, a registered social worker in Hong Kong. Back in the early 2000s, she encountered ethnic minority youth on the streets during school hours, when later she realized that they did not have places in schools due to discriminatory admission policies. Since then, she has stood up for ethnic minorities. In 2012, she was awarded the Hong Kong Humanity Award in recognition of her commitment to serve the vulnerable. Hong Kong Unison works in two directions: 1. Policy advocacy work (e.g. advocating for better Chinese language education policies for ethnic minorities, expanding ethnic minority students’ post-secondary options in education, fighting for equal access to public services), and 2. Implementation of programs, such as organizing career guidance programs for ethnic minority students, providing scholarships for ethnic minority students (currently 25) who wish to continue their education or promoting activities for racial harmony and cultural sensitivity in schools. HK Unison strives to support the HK ethnic minority community to better integrate into mainstream society and give them full and equal access to rights and services as any HK resident is entitled to.
EMpower’s 1st grant to Hong Kong Unison will support ethnic minority students from different schools in Hong Kong mainly visited by ethnic minorities to be aspired towards achievable life and career goals aligned to their interests. 750 students 15 to 18 years old will receive regular life planning and career guidance talks at their schools. 200 students 16 to 18 years old will be able to sharpen their interview skills, especially via mock interviews, and participate in diverse workplace visits in Hong Kong and Kowloon.
Our Underwriters pay for all of our administrative and fundraising costs, so 100% of your donation goes directly to empowering at-risk youth.