2001-12-11
Allow Mainland Children Awaiting Right of Abode the Right to Attend School

A Letter to the Hong Kong Government and All Christian Schools

 

Allow Mainland Children Awaiting Right of Abode

the Right to Attend School

 

We are seven Christian organisations that believe that education is a human right and, according to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, that all children, regardless of their identity and social background, are entitled to have their right to education respected. Therefore, it is the responsibility of all governments to uphold this principle in spite of the circumstances.

With this understanding, we strongly oppose the Hong Kong government’s ban on schooling for mainland children and its threat that any school which admits the children without approval from the Education and Immigration departments while they wait for the results of their abode applications could be committing a crime. We are also alarmed by the comments of Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie in which she said that it is impractical for the authorities to provide these children with a standard education, comparing the provision of an education for these children with children who visit Hong Kong as tourists. We also view her remarks that it would be better for these children to attend short-term classes organised by volunteers as impractical and irresponsible. We feel that our government’s attitude only reflects a lack of compassion and sensitivity and that it will further damage Hong Kong’s international image even though it can be argued that its policy is lawful. Moreover, it is against natural justice to deny these children their right to an education while they await the outcome of their court cases, and we cannot accept the government’s fear that offering them an education during this waiting period might encourage other children to come to Hong Kong.

We understand that many schools which share our views and concerns for the welfare of the children and are willing to accept these children as students in their schools may not do so because of the government’s threatening speeches. We thus strongly urge our government to uphold the spirit of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and allow mainland children their right to attend school while they are waiting for a determination of their right-of-abode status. We also urge our community’s Christian schools, based on the Christian principle that all human beings are children of God and that we are all equal in God’s eyes, to accept these children as your students and to negotiate with both the Education and Immigration departments to make these children’s dream for an education a reality as a real Christmas gift to them.
 


Co-signed by: Justice and Peace Commission of the HK Catholic Diocese, Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs, Hong Kong Christians Institute, Hong Kong Student Christians Movement, Christians for Hong Kong Society, Hong Kong Christians Industrial Committee, Shum Oi Church Social Concern Fellowship of Church of Christ in China Hong Kong Council