Engaging Yi Jin Students: Problematic Educational Experiences

Tina Byrom and Philoria Ng
Nottingham Trent University
Nottingham, the United Kingdom

Education is cited as a route out of poverty and a key to improved life chances for disadvantaged young people. As such, the educational experiences of students from disadvantaged backgrounds is a key policy concern in many countries. In spite of the recent education reform in Hong Kong that aims to provide education for students of all abilities, the educational journeys and experiences of students who study for the Yi Jin Diploma in particular are problematic. Such students are constructed as “other” in a context where an emphasis is placed on English language proficiency; successful completion of and concomitant attainment in public examinations is expected; and the competition for limited university places is very high. This qualitative study explores the educational experiences of four students to answer the following research question: How does a student’s habitus constructed in the context of home, school and through social networks influence their educational experiences? Through the use of interviews and creative data collection tools (e.g. memory boxes and journals), the findings indicate the ways in which education processes and structures work to support such students and their engagement with education, but also the ways in which students are structured within a context focused on performative measures.