By Manoj Dhar, as featured in South China Morning Post Letters, 16 August 2022
Nelson Mandela said there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.
Yet, over the years, Hong Kong’s media has been replete with articles regarding its non-English-speaking children struggling with English language proficiency, its non-Chinese-speaking children struggling with Chinese language proficiency and ethnic majority Chinese children dubbing the Diploma of Secondary Education Chinese exam the “paper of death”.
One way or another, children are systemically underserved and educationally marginalised on the basis of language learning opportunities. Why is there this need to undermine children and disrespect their abilities?
What is remarkable is the consistent narrative of how hard it is to teach in an inclusive manner and provide equal learning opportunities for the children. In response, the Education Bureau has been generous with providing funding and resources, but even that does not seem to be enough incentive to encourage inclusive education.
Teachers are entrusted with empowering our young ones and securing Hong Kong’s future. With such power comes greater responsibility. When will this “blame the victim” storyline ever end?
Educators should consider owning up to the fact that they are accountable and have an undeniable moral, ethical and professional duty towards the children. Every child who falls victim to such educational poverty and such intergenerational, socioeconomic marginalisation is clear evidence of educators having failed them.
Image reference: Students learning at IBEC Jordan on October 12, 2021. Photo: Edmond So