SCMP Thursday, August 17, 2000

Special grants will help minority pupils

Schools are to be given grants to run programmes for students from South Asian ethnic minorities after a survey revealed that nearly 40 per cent of non-Chinese children had to wait a year for a school place.

Starting from the new term next month, primary schools will receive a one-off payment of $2,750 for each minority pupil enrolled. Secondary schools will be given $4,080. The rates match grants allowed for arrivals from the mainland.

The schools are expected to use the money to organise tutorial classes, develop special teaching materials and conduct orientation and guidance programmes.

Charity organisations will also be given subsidies to run induction programmes for the children, who are mostly from Pakistan, the Philippines, India and Nepal. The programmes will cover subjects such as Chinese language, conversational Cantonese and basic life education.

The survey, conducted by the Yang Memorial Methodist Social Service, found 39 per cent of the ethnic minorities had difficulties in finding a school place.

Of the 593 students from Primary Five to Secondary Five polled, 40 per cent said they had problems communicating with their Chinese classmates. It is estimated that about 20,000 South Asian youngsters are studying in Hong Kong. About 2,080 are studying at three government-aided secondary schools and four primary schools.