MU Connect issue 3 (page 32 to 33)

Home About HKMU University Publications MU Connect MU Connect issue 3 (page 32 to 33)

Backing local kindergartens in
supporting ethnic minority students

In the last issue, we looked at the ethnic minority research conducted by the School of Arts and Social Sciences to promote social inclusion. Recently, the School of Education and Languages has also conducted a study related to ethnic minorities, entitled 'Admitting ethnic minority (EM) kindergarteners: Overcoming challenges and identifying opportunities'.

Positive policy change

Positive policy change

The study was prompted by a new government initiative: in 2019/20, the Education Bureau introduced a five-tiered grant for kindergartens joining the Kindergarten Education Scheme (KES) that have admitted any numbers of non-Chinese-speaking students. It was worthwhile to evaluate, at the end of two academic years, whether the policy has motivated kindergartens to admit EM students.

Funded by the Equal Opportunities Commission and conducted jointly with the Hong Kong Child-rity Association, the study answers the question in the affirmative. 'Half of the surveyed kindergartens with EM students agreed that they had admitted more EM students because of the new grant,' reports Dr Jessie Wong Ming-sin, principal investigator of the project.

A strength-based CARE framework

A strength-based CARE framework

Unlike past studies which focused on factors contributing to kindergartens' reluctance to admit EM students, the project distinctly employs a strength-based approach. 'We thought recognising positive efforts might help encourage others to follow suit,' explains Dr Wong. For this purpose, the research team has developed a 'CARE' framework in which 'CARE' stands for 'capability', 'aspirations', 'resources' and 'engagement' in supporting EM kindergarteners.

The survey attracted 161 responses, amounting to a quarter of all KES kindergartens. Among them, 70% admitted EM students in 2020/21. Those without EM students exhibited no significant difference in aspirations, only less proactivity in recruiting such students, whereas those entitled to the top two tiers of grants, i.e. those having 16 EM students or more, viewed their location, experience and availability of EM staff as advantageous.

More support needed for the less experienced

More support needed for the less

Across all tiers, responding kindergartens saw the Government and EM parents as their major resource providers, but were not so sure about other sources of support. 'Kindergartens that don't traditionally admit
a lot of EM students are especially struggling with a lack of human resources,' says Dr Wong. 'Many are left to their own devices in the face of difficulties.' The research team would appreciate more support and attention given to kindergartens with less experience and fewer EM students from both the public and private sectors. A supportive network connecting kindergartens and other stakeholders will also help pull together community resources.

Alongside the study, the research team has organised an award scheme known as 'Racial CARE', recognising kindergartens that are setting good examples in the CARE aspects. All three kindergartens winning the Award of Excellence are in tier 5, and all of them have made exemplary efforts in engaging EM parents, creating a culturally inclusive learning environment, and tapping into community resources. 'It takes the concerted efforts of kindergartens, parents and the community to help EM children fully integrate into local society,' expresses Dr Wong. 'We hope to see more beneficial exchanges between kindergartens with different levels of experience.'