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週四, 22 二月 2018 08:22

The FTU urges FS to support EMs in the Budget

Many Ethnic Minorities have been in Hong Kong for generations and have played important roles in the development of Hong Kong. However, EMs are facing language barriers, poverty and various difficulties in using public services. Alice MAK, Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Rights of Ethnic Minorities of the Legislative Council, FTU Lawmaker today (22 February 2018) urged the government to provide more grants to the Kindergartens admitting non-Chinese speaking (NCS) students and to formulate “EMs Work Placement Scheme”.

Grant should be provided to KGs admitting handful NCS students

The FTU’s policy proposal submitted to the FS in December 2017 proposed a series of measures to step up the support for EMs. Suggested measures include enhancement in financial support to Primary and Secondary School admitting NCS students.

“Apart from Primary and Secondary education, kindergarten education is also important for NCS students, as this is the first and the best place for them to learn Chinese and to integrate into the community. However, the government support to KGs is insufficient”, Alice MAK added.

Lam Chui-ling, Principal of a KG, said her school is admitting eight NCS students this year. To support the special needs of NCS students, the school is using the government’s grants to hire one more teacher. “KGs are hesitated to admin NCS students, as lots of EM children don’t have much exposure to the Chinese Language, teachers need to pay extra attention to them. We also have problems in communicating with EM parents because of language barriers”, Ms. Lam added.

“We need a lot more support to manage NCS students but the government’s grant provides only to KGs admitting eight or more NCS students. No grant is available for KGs admitting less than eight NCS students (54% of Hong Kong’s KGs), so this discourages KGs to take NCS students due to insufficient support”, Ms. Lam said.

In response to the problem, Alice MAK urges the government to provide a basic allowance to encourage KGs admitting NCS students even just a handful. The government should also implement the “Chinese Language Curriculum Second Language Learning Framework” in KGs and increase the current grant to KGs.

“More financial resources would encourage KGs to strengthen manpower support, provide the needed learning experience to NCS students and enhance communication with the EM parents”, Alice MAK added.

Insufficient job referral services

According to the recent report of the Commission on Poverty, the unemployment rates of the poor population of many ethnic groups such as Pakistanis and Nepalese were higher than the overall poor population. “The report reflects the relatively high incidence of these EM groups falling below the poverty line due to unemployment”, Alice MAK noted.

“Inadequate employment support service is always a problem for EMs. The statistics of 2016 shows that only 1,043 EM job seekers registered with Labour Department for employment services annually and only 82 placements were secured through LD’s employment referral services”, Alice MAK added.

EM Programme Officer Mr. Hussain said there is plenty of room for Labour Department to improve their services. “One of my clients wished to change his job from construction worker to security guard because of his lung diseases, but the employment ambassador in LB only provided a list of construction companies for him and no other support was provided”.

“There are lots of difficulties for EM to seek a better job. One of my clients got an MBA degree. When he applied for a manager post in a company, the interviewer asked him to consider to take a janitor job instead of the position of manager”, Mr. Hussain added.

“Supporting the EM citizens to join the workforce is good for them to unleash their potentials and to contribute to the community”, Alice MAK said.

Alice MAK hopes that the government can formulate an “EM Work Placement Scheme” in the upcoming Budget. To encourage employers to employ EM jobseekers failing to find a proper job over a period of time, employers who join the scheme may apply for a training allowance of $4,500 for 6 months.

The FTU also urges the government to set up an “EM Employment Division” in Labour Department, so as to improve employment support and job referral services for EM citizens.

Improve Interpretation services

According to Government figures, the percentage of EM citizens using public services is relatively low when compare with other Chinese speaking citizens. This could be due to the lack of insufficient interpretation services available in the government departments. Alice MAK urges the government to allocate more resources for the departments to enhance their services and implement cross-departmental guideline of interpretation services for EMs. Such services should also be made much more accessible.

Ends/ Thursday, February 21, 2018
Issued at HKT 14:30

Press coverage (Chinese only)

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