Students from Hong Kong’s biggest international school group made multiple complaints over teachers being racist and showing inappropriate behaviour which school authorities say will be investigated.
On Tuesday, an online petition initiated by a student of KGV (King George V School) collected more than 1,100 signatures, demanding that the matter be directly addressed by management and for a reformation of current policies.
Both the KGV school in Ho Man Tin and the ESF (English Schools Foundation) were addressed in an open letter from the Year 13 student, accusing teachers of “making fun of the names of Asian students” and performing uncomfortable uniform checks on female students“purposefully”.
On condition of anonymity, at least three students who spoke to SCMP, agreed with some contents in the letter to the Post, and asked for changes to be made. ESF in their reply, said they were willing to meet the letter writer or other students and “examine the points raised in a supportive manner”.
On Tuesday, an ESF spokeswoman said “While we were extremely surprised by the content of this petition, we know that it would be wrong to simply dismiss it.” KGV principal Mark Blackshaw had already reached out to all Year 13 students for a meeting according to the Post, to listen to their experiences and“work through the concerns raised”.
Signed by a “class of 2020 graduate”, the 2,900-word letter claimed blatant sexist acts were performed by some teachers, and the normalisation of racism on campus by making “casually racist statements” was allowed by the teachers for years.
The writer said “Mispronouncing, misspelling, and mocking names of Asian students were a daily occurrence, simply due to the fact that some teachers feel comfortable making fun of non-white students.” “
As a person of colour who has frequently witnessed the unfair punishment of … non-white students in KGV in particular, the current global climate regarding attitudes towards racism has made me realise I cannot stay silent on the racism perpetuated within ESF schools.”
The writer said schoolmates would commonly use the derogatory “N-word” on others, acts which were “often overlooked by staff, rendering them complicit in racist behaviours by allowing them to continue,” though there were hardly any black students on campus.
The writer also states that male teachers took part in the “sexualisation of female students”, as the school’s dress code which requires pupils to have their socks “above and covering their ankles” and a skort, shorts with a fabric lining resembling a skirt covering in front which are no shorter than 10cm from the knee.
Teachers would “purposefully look up” students’ skorts to see if they were of an “appropriate length” according to the writer. Sock lengths “should not be long enough to cover your knees, or else we would look like Japanese schoolgirls’ according to the students Teachers would frequently “make fun of students’ Asian names” according to a Year 12 student.
She said “A lot of us would switch to an English name.” She also added that some male teachers checked the girl’s school uniforms, making some female students feel very uncomfortable. “There is one particular teacher who would go around and tell students to stand up, and he will put his hands against your leg.”
The act of scrutinising students’ uniform length was described as “dehumanising” by another senior student at KGV along with some of his peers. “It makes them feel like an object that is being measured,” he said.
According to government figures, local students made up around 21 per cent of the 1,800 KGV students in the school year 2019-20. The annual fees to enroll a student for this school would range between HK$133,800 (US$17,260) and HK$140,700 (US$18,100).
A parent said she believed the rules for female uniforms were reasonable as she found KGV to be inclusive and without “serious racism”. “The principal has introduced new rules on uniforms, including on the length of skorts and school socks,” she said.
“I know that students do not like these rules. But before, the skorts were really short and they wore different types of socks and shoes. Now they have rules to follow and that is what a uniform should be.”
She added: “KGV students should appreciate what they have and work hard on what they should be as students of the school … I do hope that KGV can remain peaceful.”
24th June 19:00
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