Multiculltural education in Hong Kong primary schools : promoting equitable learning opportunities

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The thesis investigates how one local mainstream primary school in Hong Kong is making multicultural education possible. Learner and learning diversity is an increasingly complex issue in schools world-wide. In Hong Kong, the current education policy has as a core value that all students have the right to learn. Yet finding effective ways to manage students with diverse educational needs is problematic for local schools. This research is a case study of one primary school that is trying to implement multicultural educationto improve equitable learning opportunities for all their students. The current research topic emerged following findings from a previous project in which one hundred local Hong Kong teachers were found to have negative perceptions regarding catering for student diversity in their teaching (Yeung, 2005, 2006). The teachers' perceptions of students' abilities were influenced by students' test scores or socio-cultural backgrounds. The local teachers are trained to work effectively with only one dominant culture and they are unprepared to acknowledge the cultural differences in schools. Teaching students from a range of backgrounds with diverse needs brings about feelings of anxiety in schools. In the current study, I emply a constructivist approach, that is, I discuss how teachers re-shaped their perceptions, beliefs and behaviours as they developed and implemented a school-based multicultural education project. I sought to understand and examine how multicultural education was socially constructed and enacted by teachers in one school. The two major research questions are: Firstly, how is multicultural education socially constructed and enacted by teachers in mainstream school through the integration of organizational, collegial and student-teacher factors? Secondly, if there are any barriers, what are appropriate strategies or supportive measures that foster implementation of multicultural education in a local school? This is qualitative study that uses ethnographically-oriented methods comprising document analysis, observations, semi-structured interviews and focus group meetings. I examine Hong Kong education policies and multicultural education theories and develop a transformative and holistic approach to achieving multicultural change in a whole school. In conclusion, it is expected that the study findings all assist educators in Hong Kong to further understand present challenges in the school system regarding managing diversity and attaining multicultural education goals. In particular, the study provides positive teaching and learning strategies that could be implemented to address problems of diverse learning needs, and to promote or develop equitable opportunities for all students.
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