The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 823–833

The Issue of Equity and Quality of Education in Hong Kong

Regular Article

DOI: 10.1007/s40299-014-0214-1

Cite this article as:
Lee, W.O. & Manzon, M. Asia-Pacific Edu Res (2014) 23: 823. doi:10.1007/s40299-014-0214-1


‘Equity and Quality’ is an emerging terminology that focuses on the quality of education rather than on ‘excellence’. The global policy discourse is turning towards levelling up educational quality for all. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 2012 report entitled Equity and Quality in Education: Supporting Disadvantaged Students and Schools claimed that the highest performing education systems (HPES) across OECD countries are those that combine high quality and equity. In such education systems, the vast majority of students can attain high level skills and knowledge that depend on their ability and drive, more than on their socio-economic background. Paradoxically, among the HPES are three East Asian systems—China, Hong Kong and Singapore—characterized by a huge income disparity between the rich and the poor with their above-40 Gini indices. Nevertheless, their high average scores in PISA 2009 illustrate that the average quality of education in respect to learning outcomes provided in these education systems are of a very high quality which benefits the whole population regardless of the socio-economic conditions of the students. How can these seemingly contradictory claims and evidences be explained? Can educational equity and quality co-exist within a highly unequal society? This article attempts to offer some explanations taking Hong Kong as an illustrative case. Employing Bourdieu’s logic of practice, the article argues that both cultural habitus and structural contexts account for the achievement, albeit contested, of educational equity and quality in Hong Kong.


Educational equity Hong Kong High-performing education systems East Asian education Bourdieu 

Copyright information

© De La Salle University 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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