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Hong Kong Christian Schools Stand Up Against Discriminatory Decree

Recently, Hong Kong Department of Education drew up a decree that was considered as a “discriminatory and racist” by the Hong Kong Christian community (Methodists, Catholics, Anglicans).
( [email protected] ) Jun 10, 2005 11:02 PM EDT

Recently, Hong Kong Department of Education drew up a decree that was considered as a “discriminatory and racist” by the Hong Kong Christian community (Methodists, Catholics, Anglicans). In response, leaders of the Christian community are set to sue the government of the territory in court for gross discrimination against Christian schools which are guilty of not accepting the new education law, approved in July last year (Education Ordinance 2004, EO).

The decree offers several benefits to schools which accept the EO swiftly. Benefits include: insurance for school personnel; flexibility in administration of funds; an annual bonus of around 350,000 Hong Kong dollars.

While Christian churches run the majority and some of the best-known schools in the territory, they have “criticized the new law for marginalizing their education role,” and they have refused its implementation (which should be obligatory before 2008). Soon will be debated in parliament, the proposal appears to award those who implement the new law quickly, but it discriminates against those who are not ready to follow it, according to Asia News.

Catholics and Anglicans bishops, as well as Methodist leaders, have criticized the decree and they are demanding that benefits be either cancelled or offered to all.

If the churches sue the government, lawyers and jurists say the Christians will surely win the case. Because the same EO admits that delay in implementation is legal, the decree is considered discriminatory for it only benefits those who implement the law.

According to sources close to AsiaNews, the government is trying to reach a compromise with the churches, and it has invited Christian leaders to a public meeting scheduled for next week.

According to government, the EO allows for greater transparency and more democracy, because it requires that each school sustained economically by the government sets up a School Management Committee (SMC) with legal status separate from educational institutions (Sponsoring bodies – SB).

However, Christian SBs say that the already existing directives provide enough transparency and democracy in school administration. Currently, the SMCs answers to the SBs but not to the government.