Education of ideal citizens: an ethnographic study of two schools in Hong Kong
Lee, Dorothy Wing Huen
Soon after the political handover in 1997, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government had introduced a series of education and curriculum reforms. Such reforms is said to be proceeded in response to teenagers' lack of national identification towards their motherland China, and also to the public discourse addressing the economic challenges and competition in the universal trend of globalization. Although a few studies had unveiled the underlying values of Confucianism, neo-liberalism and market ideology under these objectives, how the new definitions of "ideal citizens" is understood and promoted in the actual school settings, and how those values influence the process of students' identity construction and their vision on their life trajectories, remains unknown. Drawing on the data from an ethnographic research conducted in 2010, this thesis illustrates how the qualities of an "ideal citizen" propagated in the education and curriculum reform would be understood and transformed in two very different schools in Hong Kong. One is a long-established girls' school located in a middle-class district, which has a reputation of providing "all-rounded" education and nurturing future woman-leaders; the other one is being considered as a "academically-low band" school located in remote area, which struggled to survive and started to admit "Non-Chinese speaking" (NCS) students from Pakistan, Nepal and Philippines three years ago in order to solve the problem of insufficient intake of local students. Apart from the halfyear participant-observation in the two campuses, in-depth interviews of the 2 school principals, 13 teachers, 19 students and 2 alumni of the two schools have also been conducted. Other school documents including official school magazines, school reports as well as students’ publications have also been collected as supporting information. Due to the different historical background, the school management strategy and most of all, the composition of students from very different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, the two schools had developed very different ideas and definition of an "ideal citizen", and thus led to different directions of school policies and expectations on students. Through the examples of the provision of the “Other learning Experience” (OLE) and students’ participation patterns in Chapter Five, the different language policies and students’ ability in languages in Chapter Six, and the process of the construction of femininities of young girls in Chapter Seven, this study shows how the problematic of class, gender and ethnics domination still exist under the new context of education reform. This study also reveals that while Hong Kong policy-maker claimed that the education reform ‘bears upon the equity and balance of our society', the socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicity and gender which traditionally being viewed as factors that differentiate education outcomes in sociological studies are completely ignored in the reform.