Bridge over troubled water: An interpretive phenomenological study exploring relationships between Nepalese parents and special schools in Hong Kong

Divya Darshan GURUNG

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Inclusive education upholds children’s rights, and as key stakeholders, parents’ access to equitable participation in their children’s learning is essential. Recognising the vulnerability of ethnic minority students with disabilities in Hong Kong who are at risk of marginalisation, the urgency of parental advocacy cannot be overstated. This study addresses the need for inclusion in home-school partnership in Hong Kong. Acknowledging multiple barriers for Nepalese families of children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in Hong Kong and global educational trends aspiring towards inclusion, this study asks: How do primary special needs schools and Nepalese parents in Hong Kong understand, develop, and practise homeschool partnership? With a paucity of literature on home-school partnerships with ethnic minority parents in Hong Kong, this study aims to explore stakeholder experiences. The purpose is to gauge how current practice and institutional structures contribute to inclusive partnership with ethnic minority parents.

The research context of this study is in the domain of inclusive education and home-school partnership. With Bourdieu’s social capital theory illuminating ethnic minority experiences, the study begins from the premise that home-school partnership is not accessible to all due to competing cultural and social capital. A constructivist epistemological paradigm helps achieve the inquiry’s aims through a multiperspectival Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) method, using semi-structured interviews to gather a rich exploration of individual experiences of parents and professionals in primary special schools. Findings highlight three themes around the area of shared perspectives between stakeholders, measures to circumvent barriers, and institutional structures impacting home-school partnership. The study concludes that special schools in Hong Kong are failing to promote inclusive homeschool partnership with Nepalese parents, where the educational and social implications continue to impact the social divide, parental advocacy, and children’s learning experiences.

The outcomes of this study highlight the urgent need for revisiting the conceptualisation of home-school partnership in Hong Kong guided by an ethos of inclusion. The study makes recommendations along three dimensions: perspective, practice, and process, which include crafting inclusive policies, and investments into institutional shifts anchored by continuous whole-school development. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • SIN, Kuen Fung, Kenneth 冼權鋒, Supervisor
  • MASON, Mark, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Ethnic minority
  • Parental involvement
  • Special education
  • Inclusion
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2022.


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