‘Partial’ citizenship: Social rights and ethnic minority students in Hong Kong

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Bauböck (2011) has argued that immigrants might only enjoy ‘partial’ citizenship when they leave their home countries for new destinations. This concept may well apply to other residents within territorial boundaries when the rights to which all residents are entitled are not provided equally. Recent literature has suggested that this may be the case of ethnic minority students when it comes to educational provision in Hong Kong. Ethnic minority students make up about 2% of the school population in Hong Kong’s dominant Chinese society. While a small percentage of these students may be immigrants, they are more likely to be second-generation residents of South Asian origin. A recently passed Racial Discrimination Ordinance highlighted the need to ensure equitable government provision of education. The key issue for such provision is between integrationist and multicultural models of pluralistic societies: a common education for all or a differentiated education based on specific cultural needs? To explore how this has played itself out in practice, surveys of teachers and their ethnic minority students have been conducted to understand better the learning opportunities available to ethnic minority students. In particular, the purpose was to identify the ‘voice’ of both groups on a topic that has created real tensions within the local community (Kennedy, 2011). The results indicated that ethnic minority students’ rights to education may be at risk, especially in relation to the learning of Chinese. This has become the centrepiece of policy but for which curriculum provision remains contested. Failure to learn Chinese leads to low participation in upper secondary education and beyond. Until the issue of language learning is resolved to cater for the needs non-Chinese speaking students, ethnic minority students will be denied their full education entitlements in Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012


Kennedy, K. (2012, May). ‘Partial’ citizenship: Social rights and ethnic minority students in Hong Kong. Paper presented at the 76th Annual and the fourteenth Conference of the Children’s Identity and Citizenship in Europe Erasmus Academic Network, University of York, York, UK.


  • Rights
  • Citizenship
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Hong Kong


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