Row over stereotypes

Row over stereotypes

A question in a primary school textbook may lead children to believe that all people from the Philippines are domestic helpers

A general studies textbook used by local primary schools is raising public outcry because it suggests all people from the Philippines are domestic helpers.

The textbook has a fill-in-the-blanks exercise about racial harmony, where students are supposed to fill in the nationality that best fits a description. One of the questions reads: "I am a domestic helper in Hong Kong", and the answer required by the textbook is "Filipino", leading some children to think this is the only job for people from the Philippines.

Such a stereotype being taught to children has raised concerns. Tom Grundy, who is from Britain but now lives in Hong Kong, wrote a blog post about the contents of the textbook, condemning it for its racial discrimination.

But some netizens think the textbook is not discriminatory. They believe that the people who complained about the textbook are being too class-conscious, and that a domestic helper is not an inferior job.

Wong Hak-lim, vice-president (internal affairs) of the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, thinks it is unfair to associate a country with certain jobs but he believed that the publisher did not intend to discriminate against anybody. "Children have not yet developed critical thinking skills and easily believe what they are told. Parents should teach them the right values and to respect others," he said.

In response to the issue, the education bureau said it has contacted the publisher of the textbook to follow up on the case.



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