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Hong Kong: Disabled Student Takes Education Bureau to Court

(Aug. 11, 2009) Tong Wai-ting, an 18 year-old student with a mild form of mental retardation, is asking the Hong Kong High Court to overturn a decision to end his enrollment in high school. The Education Bureau had made that determination based on an age limit for students; Tong considers that limit discriminatory. The case, being heard the first week of August 2009, was filed by attorney Martin Lee Chu-ming and names the Secretary of Education and his permanent secretary, Michael Suen Ming-yeung and Raymong Wong Hung-chiu, respectively. (Nickkita Lau, Disabled Student Goes to Court over “Age Limit Bias,” THE STANDARD, Aug. 5, 2009, available at

Tong is a student at HHCKLA Buddhist Po Kwong School and is challenging the New Senior Secondary system, a set of rules to be implemented in September 2009. The previous system had permitted mentally challenged students to remain in school for the standard six years of primary education and four years of secondary education, plus an optional additional two-year extension for which the student could apply, called the EYE system. While the new rules establish a standard of six years of primary and six years of secondary education, extensions have been given out in relatively few cases. Furthermore, the age limit has been lowered from 20 to 18. Following a professional review of his case recommending more time in school, Tong applied for an additional year but was turned down. (Id.)

The attorney for the Education Bureau, Lisa Wong Kwok-ying, argued that it was not possible to really compare the programs for mainstream students and those with mental disabilities. She pointed out that the enhanced program for those with disabilities make the extensions under the old two-year EYE program unnecessary. Wong went on to state, “[t]he harsh reality is, unfortunately, that due to the disability of students, their academic attainment could never be put on the same level as others.” (Id.)