Local NGO Hong Kong Unison has found that the majority of quality review reports conducted by the Education Bureau (EDB) — which makes judgements on the overall school performances of individual kindergartens — are only available in Chinese. It means the reviews may be inaccessible to ethnic minority parents.

The results of Unison’s research on the Accountability of Kindergarten Education to the Ethnic Minority Community were released at a press conference on Thursday. 151 quality review reports from three districts — Yau Tsim Mong, Yuen Long and Eastern — were studied in order to evaluate the information that non-Chinese speaking parents missed owing to the language barrier.

Photo: Hong Kong Unison screenshot.

The research found that 99.3 per cent of the reports were only available in Chinese, meaning that non-Chinese speaking parents “face immense difficulties in accessing the information in the [quality reports] in evaluating the performance of kindergartens.”

‘Transparency and accountability’

According to pro-democracy lawmaker Fernando Cheung, the EDB had said that “all information related to school choice is available in both Chinese and English on the Bureau’s website.”

However, when he pointed out that important information was only available in Chinese, he was told that the quality review reports were only intended to serve as a reference for kindergartens that use Chinese as a medium of instruction.

The EDB also said that the reports are uploaded in order to “enhance transparency and accountability to the community.”

“It clearly shows that the EDB did not consider the ethnic minority parents as important stakeholders in the community,” Unison said in response.

File photo: GovHK.

Unison added that, in 2015, it had raised the the problem of poor accountability with education chief Kevin Yeung, who was then the undersecretary for education. However, they were told that the bureau was aware of the issue, but was still in the stage of “collecting views of stakeholders and studying the feasibility of reporting the [quality review] findings in English.”

“Two years into knowing about this problem, it appears that the EDB does not take accountability to the NCS [non-Chinese speaking] community seriously enough,” Unison said.

The NGO urged the bureau to provide English versions of the reports. It also said that the government should make recommendations on any malpractice observed at kindergartens—such as an over-concentration of non-Chinese speaking students—which “is unfavourable to early integration.”

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.