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Closing the gap: Supporting ethnic minority children and caregivers in Hong Kong

Authors Chen, Eva E. View this author's profile
Issue Date 2017
Summary The importance of early childhood education in supporting the holistic development of children has been increasingly recognized in the Asia-Pacific. Given universal access to pre-primary education in Hong Kong, much effort has been devoted to improving the quality of pre-primary education. However, ethnic minority (EM) children often face additional challenges. A key issue these children and their caregivers face is language, as many low-income EM families lack the resources to help their children adjust and thrive in the mainstream, Chinese-speaking school system. We seek to address this issue through three interventions: (i) Chinese language and literacy training for children; (ii) Chinese language and literacy training for caregivers; and (ii) positive parenting skills training for caregivers. We conducted intensive recruitment with kindergartens and non-governmental organisations across Hong Kong; in total, 112 EM participants (44 children, 68 caregivers) were included in the study. Participants were given pre- and post-intervention assessments for literacy skills (children and caregivers) and for parenting (caregivers). Forty-four children completed sixteen 45-minute Chinese language sessions over 8 weeks; 59 caregivers completed ten 2-hour parenting skills sessions; and 9 caregivers completed eight 1-hour parent literacy sessions over 8 weeks. Results indicate that the Chinese literacy skills of both the children and their caregivers improved after the intervention. Parents who completed the positive parenting skills training reported using less negative discipline methods with their children. Overall, our findings shed insight into relatively understudied populations in Hong Kong, and demonstrate the need to provide responsive and high quality early education to EM children – especially in the early years – so that they are able to integrate fully into the society in which they live.
Conference The 2017 Asia-Pacific Regional Early Childhood Development Conference, Siem Reap, Cambodia, 1-3 March 2017
Language English
Format Conference paper
Access Find@HKUST