An honest purchase

An honest purchase

Students are helping promote fair trade at school to ensure a better deal for farmers

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King George V School students Aika Hui (left) and Audrey Yick, with teacher Mark Poulsum
King George V School students Aika Hui (left) and Audrey Yick, with teacher Mark Poulsum
Photo: Dickson Lee
Fair trade has been promoted in Hong Kong for years, but for some students, it is still a foreign concept. Fair trade is a social movement aimed at ensuring farmers in developing countries get better trading conditions.

'I didn't know anything about it,' says 16-year-old HKFYG Lee Shau Kee College student Houston Lee Kin-hang. 'There's nothing about it in our textbooks.'

His classmate Landen Kwan Jack-yung says: 'I heard a little about it in primary school. But now I understand more as I've learned about farmers and the harsh conditions they face.'

Another student at the Tin Shui Wai school, Eric So Man-kik, says: 'I am sad that farmers are exploited by big companies.'

The three Form Four boys took part in the 'Bring Fair Trade to Your School' programme launched by Fair Trade Hong Kong. The programme was co-founded by Oxfam Hong Kong in 2008 to raise awareness of fair trade in schools.

With the steering committee, the students organised seminars, made display boards and created game stalls to introduce fair trade to the school.

'It's good to teach students that our economy is not just about making money, but there is also social responsibility and equity,' says Pansy Chow, the school's economics panel head.

Chow has incorporated fair trade into the school's Form Three curriculum.

Houston says: 'We should not discriminate against farmers because they are poor. Don't forget, a lot of our food comes from them. When I start working, I want to be treated fairly.'

At King George V School, it's less about teaching students the concept, and more about involving everyone in turning KGV into a fair-trade school.

Thirty Year Nine students came up with a policy statement for the school to support fair trade in a sustainable way.

'We researched some fair-trade schools in England and came up with our own statement. It includes bringing fair-trade products to the student canteen and staff room, and incorporating the topic into every possible subject,' 14-year-old Audrey Yick says.

Aika Hui, 13, who is in charge of advertising, says: 'We conducted a survey to see how much students already knew about fair trade, and then developed a promotional plan to educate and remind students of what we can do to take part.'

The school sells fair-trade coffee, cookies and chocolate. It uses fair-trade materials in textiles lessons, and includes the topic in geography, business and religious studies lessons.

'Fair trade is in line with our school ethos. We believe our lives are interdependent on each other, and the way we consume has positive and negative impacts,' says Mark Poulsum, head of geography at KGV, who oversees fair-trade development at the school.

'The Year Nine team is recruiting Year Eight students to join the team so that their work can be carried on.'

Aika says: 'Our next step is to invite other ESF schools to join us by sharing our experience with them. We also hope to include local schools one day.'

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