The Association’s view on the consultation paper on Article 38 in the Discrimination Ordinance proposed by the Equal Opportunities Commission
Prepared by HKAHSS 30/10/2014
- Article 38 in the Consultation Document asks: Do you think that the limitations on the operation of the Racial Discrimination Ordinance (RDO) in the education and vocational training sectors regarding the exceptions on the medium of instruction should be repealed?
- The RDO, enacted in 2008, prohibits racial discrimination in the education sector. At that time, the government was of the view that it is not reasonably practicable for the education and vocational training sectors to modify or make different arrangements in holidays and the medium of instruction for persons of any racial group. Therefore Sections 20(2) and 26(2) of the RDO stipulate exceptions exempting the education and vocational training sectors from the requirement to modify or make different arrangements in holidays and the medium of instruction for persons of any racial group.
- All children in Hong Kong now have the right to receive 12 years of free education. We hold the view that the government should strengthen the protection of children’s right to receive education irrespective of their race or colour. However, we have concerns over the repealing of the RDO Sections 20(2) and 26(2) exceptions for the following reasons:
- Would the proposed amendment affect the legal status of the Chinese and English languages in our present education system? Do students have the right to require schools to use the language of their racial group as the medium of instruction?
- Do students have the right to require schools to allocate them to specific classes chosen by them? For example, if a student of any racial group not proficient in Chinese chooses to study in a class with English as the medium of instruction, can he/she be exempted from the school’s class allocation requirement such as performance rating and be given a place in the class of his/her choice?
- Government funded schools have many limitations on their medium of
instruction and resources. If schools cannot meet the medium of instruction requests of students of any racial group, what legal liability do the schools, their administrators and teachers have?
- We are worried that the proposed amendment would affect the education sector significantly. The statements given by the Equal Opportunity Commission on the issue of medium of instruction in the public consultation paper on the RDO cannot ease our concerns. Therefore at this stage we do not support the proposed repeal of the limitations on the operation of the RDO in the education and vocational training sectors regarding the exceptions on the medium of instruction.