De facto segregation in some public schools still remains serious though the Education Bureau removed the label “designated schools” from the public education system in the 2013/14 school year. This is because no measures have been taken to address the over-concentration of ethnic minority students in some public schools.
To date about 40% of all non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students are concentrated in 12 primary schools and 10 secondary schools respectively.
De facto racial segregation creates a distorted reality in the school environment in which Chinese and ethnic minority students are segregated, rendering them unfamiliar with each other’s culture and practices, leading to discrimination and prejudice. Ethnic minority children who grow up in such an environment will have a much harder time integrating into mainstream society.
The situation of de facto racial segregation in schools has been criticised by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) as causing harm to minority children on personal, social and economic fronts, affecting their chances of upward mobility.
Racial segregation can be seen in the Hong Kong educational system, from kindergartens, primary and secondary schools to tertiary institutions.. Hong Kong Unison sees that it is of utmost importance to rectify the situation in kindergartens as kindergarten provides children with the foundation of education – they start to learn to read, write, speak, count and interact with others. It is through kindergarten that children develop the primary skills for learning and development. The problem of racial segregation in primary and secondary schools is perpetuated for the ethnic minority children who did not have fair and equal opportunity to enroll in mainstream kindergarten.
To achieve true racial equality, the Education Bureau should establish a diverse and inclusive policy to ensure that the choice of schools for ethnic minority children is not hindered by language barriers, to better integrate ethnic minority students into the mainstream classroom, eliminate de facto segregation, and level the playing field for both Chinese and non-Chinese students.