The Chinese language requirements for 22 government jobs have been lowered to give ethnic minorities in Hong Kong more opportunities to work in the civil service.
The Chief Secretary for Administration, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, announced the changes to the requirements in a blog post on Sunday.
The changes will apply to eight professional or degree level positions, where the language requirement will drop from a level two to level one in the recruitment exam, and 14 technical or operative duties, where the language requirement will be lowered from Secondary Three level to Primary Six level. The changes are part of a government policy to review the Chinese entry requirements for all civil service grades. Since 2010, 53 civil service grades have had their Chinese language proficiency requirements reduced.
Leung Hon-chu, Principal Lecturer at the department of sociology at Baptist University, said that South Asians who grew up in Hong Kong and who find it hard to meet the Chinese language requirements are most likely to benefit from the changes.
Leung supported the move, but said more could be done to help ethnic minorities integrate into society.
“There isn’t enough support for teaching Chinese to those who aren’t ethnically Chinese,” he said.
Kaur Amanjot, 18, from Delia Memorial School (Broadway), was born and raised in Hong Kong, but her family comes from India. She said that the move could help ethnic minorities like herself learn Chinese.
If they start work with even a basic grasp of Chinese, she said, then they will be able to pick up more of the language while on the job. Amanjot said that she is confident in her Chinese proficiency, but she still thinks there’s room for improvement in the education system.
“Practical Chinese needs to be taught through real- life interactions,” she added, not just in a classroom.