I can’t count how many times over the last 10 years I have read different articles in the SCMP on this same topic. The very same arguments come up again and again, the lack of inclusion for HK ethnic minorities, the language barrier, the poor advice on language study.
As many people have been noting over the last few weeks the issue is even more acute when contrasted with the idea of National Education. How are Hong Kong’s non-Chinese expected to integrate with a love for the Chinese Nation when they are “not-Chinese”? However the essential idea of “Chinese” need not be the barrier here. I have spoken to a number of Pakistani students in Hong Kong who have expressed some interesting notions of a Chinese Nationalism. Some wanting to become soldiers for the PLA, others feeling that there is no difference between China and Hong Kong, or even describing themselves as Chinese. This is not always the case and earlier this year we saw people demonstrating because they felt National Education had nothing to do with them and their lives as ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.
Certainly there are barriers for ethnic minority students in Hong Kong. And, absolutely some versions of a National Education curriculum would entirely marginalise non-Chinese students. But lets not choose for them exactly what they want.There is no reason why they cannot choose to identify as Chinese if they so wish. If we persist with the idea that ethnic minorities are by default not appropriate for National Education, by the same argument we would be able to push the notion that Chinese people in Hong Kong are best suited for National Education. This trivialises what people are trying to protect and foster, which is in my mind Hong Kong citizenship, devoid of nationalism and tolerant of ethnic and religious difference. The debate on National Education is not about essentialising who is and isn’t Chinese.
Perhaps this is one of the developments that will encourage the Hong Kong Government to regard its ethnic minorities as “Hong Kong People”. I stand by the need for this evolve and the need for all people to have the access to be inclusively taught Chinese and given realistic opportunities to succeed in accessing vocational and Higher Education.
From today’s SCMP
“Where do ethnic minority students fit in under the government’s moral and national education curriculum? There were many uncertainties surrounding the government’s now-suspended plan to make the subject compulsory in our schools, and this was one.
Parts of the subject are aimed at encouraging a Chinese identity and sense of belonging, yet how would that be taught to students who identify themselves as Pakistani Hongkongers or Indian Hongkongers? There was never a satisfactory answer. Obviously, the government was not being particularly culturally sensitive when drawing up the policy.
According to the Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong’s ethnic non-Chinese population grew 32 per cent from 2001 to 2011, and the proportion rose from 5 per cent to 6.4 per cent. There are around 30,000 ethnic minority (South or Southeast Asian) full-time students in Hong Kong, but many of them are not informed about what is happening in the education system, as most school notices are in Chinese and some ethnic minority parents have difficulties communicating with teachers in Cantonese or English.”