According to the population census (2016), ethnic minorities (EM) represent around 6% of the Hong Kong population – with Filipino, Indonesian, Indian, Nepalese, and Pakistani as most prominent groups (except Chinese who account alone for 92% and White people). Their economic situation is very different from Chinese Hong Kongers with a median monthly household income significantly lower and an average poverty rate amongst the South and South-East Asian EM of 24% (highest amongst the Pakistani) against 20% in the HK population. In general, poverty among EM groups is worsening as is child poverty. A 2016 research study by Lingnan University in collaboration with universities in the UK and Australia revealed that more than a tenth of the city’s children do not have a suitable place to study.
Hong Kong is also characterised by widespread discrimination based on social, political, racial and gender issues. It is therefore not astonishing that many young people, especially from EM backgrounds, who generally are in lower socio-economic strata, face a huge range of issues, including discrimination, limited social mobility or language barriers resulting in lower educational attainment or inequalities in accessing future job opportunities. Repercussions related to poverty and discrimination affect all young people in HK at their key developmental stages, but especially EM children/young people who are growing up in an environment of systemic discrimination in their daily life and at school. The education system has therefore a major role to play to help disadvantaged young people overcome different barriers at various levels. Unfortunately, EM children and young people face poor equitable access to the education system and restrictions in their choice of school at all levels which leads to lower educational attainment coupled with a weaker skill set and exacerbated by low Chinese language skills.
The KELY Support Group (KELY, which stands for “Kids Everywhere Like You”) is a non-governmental organisation founded in 1991 by a young woman having issues with drugs and alcohol. Since its creation, KELY’s mission is to equip young people with the skills, knowledge, and opportunities needed to support themselves and each other. The organisation is known to work with schools and other partners to offer programmes to Chinese- and English-speaking young people between the ages of 14 and 24, including EM young people, to empower them to reach their full potential.
KELY works in three core focus areas:
1) Drug and Alcohol Awareness: An example of a programme is ExCEL that targets young people from EM backgrounds and from resource-poor settings to promote a culture of peer support.
2) Mental Health and Well-being: The programme Coolminds, for example, is a youth mental health initiative in partnership with Mind HK to bring international best practice to HK for youth mental health.
3) Positive Youth Development: Examples include the Coding for Life programme that we suggest for renewed funding, and a programme called RiseUp that supports EM young people in HK to develop life skills and resilience along with creative photography skills.
Primary Location: Hong Kong, China
Funded Since: 2018
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