A recent report has said that not enough was done last year to help Hong Kong’s underprivileged children.
The Annual Report of the Civil Children’s Ombudsman, released by the Society for Community Organisation and its Children’s Rights Association on the last day of 2017, gave city officials a score of 25 out of a possible 100 for their work to help fix child poverty.
This was an improvement on the 15 given in the same report for 2016. It was also the highest since 2006, when the first rating was issued.
Talking Points: should the government spend HK$32 billion on a sports park when one in five in HK live below the poverty line?
The report covered 10 topics, and each topic was worth a possible total of 10 marks.
“The consistently failing level shows the government has not done enough concerning children’s rights,” association chairman Justin Wong Tsz-kit said. “We believe the government can do more.”
More than 2,000 members of the Children’s Rights Association, aged from six to 17 and all from underprivileged families, were asked to rate the government’s performance.
According to figures on the report, of the roughly one million Hongkongers aged 18 or below, 229,000 were living below the poverty line, or 22.6 per cent. The poverty line is the lowest amount of money you need to live on. If you are below the poverty line, it means you are classified as poor.
Among the 10 factors looked at in the report, work on housing was given the highest mark: five – an improvement on the zero score last year.
Wong said the good housing score was a result of plans to offer temporary housing to people in the queue for public housing, to get them out of unlivable units until a government flat became available. But he said officials had not made good use of land to build more public flats.
Education was given four out of 10. Wong said a free kindergarten policy had been added in the current school year.
But three topics, including the city’s political system, child care services and arrangements for reunions for families divided between the mainland and Hong Kong, were given the lowest scores, of just one.
The government is planning to set up an official Commission on Children by the middle of the year. Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said on Sunday that details of the commission’s work would be studied after collecting public opinion.
Wong Hung-to, a 10-year-old boy who lives in a 100 sq ft subdivided flat with his mum, said his tiny home could only accommodate a bed and a table.
“I don’t have any space at home to do my homework,” he said. “Usually I have to finish it at school or at the community centre.”