59 Child Councilors discuss motions on child-related issues with legislators Calling for the protection of children’s rights topolitical participation; more opportunities of grassroots children of participating in extra-curricular activities and review

 

59 Child Councilors discuss motions on child-related issues with legislators Calling for the protection of children’s rights topolitical participation; more opportunities of grassroots children of participating in extra-curricular activities and review

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HONG KONG, 23 November 2013 –Today, 59 Child Councilors debated three motions formulated by themselves, including: The government should protect the children’s rights to political participation; The government should give grassroots children more opportunities of participating in extra-curricular activities; and the government should review and monitor the implementation of “Other Learning Experiences” in the New Senior Secondary Curriculum. Representatives from public organisations and Legislative Councilors including Dr Kenneth CHAN Ka-lok, Dr Fernando CHEUNG Chiu-hung, Ms Emily LAU Wai-hing, Dr LEUNG Ka-lau, Dr Alan LEONG Kah-kit, Mr Charles Peter MOK, Dr Elizabeth QUAT, Mr SIN Chung-kai, Mr TAM Yiu-Chung, Dr Helena WONG Pik-wan and Mr WU Chi-wai, together with Ms Astor CHAN Wai-sim, Chairperson of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, Mr Ricky CHU, Secretary-General of Independent Police Complaints Council, Dr FUNG Wai-wah, President of Hong Kong Professional Teacher’s Union, Dr HO Sai-mun, Vice Chairman of The Hong Kong Association of the Heads of Secondary School, Mr Leung Kee-cheong, Headmaster of Fresh Fish Traders’ School, Dr Gordon TSUI Luen-on, JP, Chairman of Committee on Home-School Cooperation, Mr Ivan TAN Yi-chun, Member of Secretariat of Scholarism and other guests were present to exchange views with Child Councilors.

The meeting held in Legislative Council Complex, with reference to the rules and procedures of the Legislative Council. The 59 Child Councilors, aged from 12 to 17, were divided into three groups. Representatives from each group first moved the motions on the child-related issues, followed by an intense debate with other Child Councilors, and a Q & A session with Legislative Councilors and other panel guests. The Child Councilors present in the meeting then voted to determine the passage on a motion.

Regarding the first motion, The government should protect the children’s rights to political participation, Child Councilors are of the opinion that there is an increasing trend of children under the age of 18 in Hong Kong participating in political activities. However, their rights are not fully protected by the law although freedom of speech, freedom of association and peaceful assembly are mentioned by the Basic Law. The Child Councilors thus suggested that the Government to enhance public education and promotion regarding children’s rights to political participations improve the content of the Liberal Studies’ textbooks and set up a platform to collect the voices and opinions of the children properly. They also suggested the police to have clear internal guidelines and proper training regarding the protection and rights of children to political participations.

According to the Hong Kong Poverty Situation Report 2012 released by the government, more than 200,000 children are living under the poverty line. Child Councilors pointed out grassroots children are deprived of equitable opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities for all round development due to poverty. Therefore, the second motion, The government should give grassroots children more opportunities of participating in extra-curricular activities was moved by Child Councilors. They suggested using a gradual subsidy approach and “Extra-Curricular Activities Voucher” to replace the current approach of rigid uniformity in subsidy provision.

In addition, Child Councillors recommended the government to consult grassroots children regarding their views and aspiration on extra-curricular activities, as well as to cultivate an appropriate attitude of joining extra-curricular activities among children.

With reference to the third motion, The government should review and monitor the implementation of “Other Learning Experiences” in the New Senior Secondary Curriculum, Child Councilors pointed out the current new senior secondary curriculum has been implemented since 2009, however, the public are only focused on the core and main subjects but ignore the arrangement and implementation of the “Other Learning Experience (OLE). There is a big difference in implementation among different schools, some students are even forced to attend specific OLE activities. Also, there are great pressure on teachers and students to conform to the requirements of OLE.

Moreover, there are lack of resources and support to schools. Child Councilors recommended the government to have an overall review of the implementation and content of OLE, increase the support and guidance to schools and enhance the linkage of OLE towards tertiary education and career development. Also, the Education Bureau should monitor the implementation of OLE to protect the autonomy and freedom of choices of students.

After the meeting, all the Child Councilors and honourable guests participated at the Closing Ceremony. With the presence of the Deputy Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau, Mr Gordon LEUNG Chung Tai as the Guest of Honour, the Ceremony marked the successful completion of the Children’s Council in its ninth year.During the motion preparation in the past four months, Child Councilors had 23 group meetings; they also conducted 16 interviews with government officials, legislators and people from various sectors; collected views from more than 800 children through questionnaires; along with desk top researches to prepare the three motions that will be compiled into a publication. The publications will be sent to the authorities concerned, and child-related organisations for government and society’s consideration and reference.
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