A research by the Equal Opportunity Commission revealed that more than 50 percent of the ethnic minority population completed higher education, which is higher than the general population. In addition, the number of local non-Chinese speaking students joining University Grants Commission-funded or self-funded sub-degree and degree programmes has also increased significantly from the academic year 2011/12 to 2016/17, reflecting a large number of young ethnic minorities who are interested in personal development.
It is often seen that the general public and NGOs perceive the ethnic minority youths as the beneficiary, but they are actually important assets in our society, many of whom are keen to learn and highly educated. Meanwhile, the underprivileged children are facing big difficulties during the time of pandemic. As reported by the World Bank, the COVID-19 has exacerbated the learning losses and increased the inequality, leaving the children vulnerable. Zooming into Hong Kong, another research by the Society for Community Organization revealed that students from grassroots families lack household and educational resources, and as a result, it has a direct impact on their academic performance, especially for their English proficiency.
To tackle these two issues and break the language barriers between these two groups of vulnerable people, there was an interesting case that a local NGO supported programme called D-Generation has embarked a 8-week community teaching programme which invited some highly educated ethic minorities youth as community teachers for the local kids, and let students “learn through play”, which can enhance students’ participation in the classroom using English and multiculturalism effectively and gradually.
Looking ahead, despite the negative impacts brought by the COVID-19, the pandemic is also an opportunity windows for policy makers, educators and NGOs to rethink about the values of education, and building the social capital together and alleviate learning losses by working out with all different stakeholders in the community, including our ethic minorities.