caucasian only english teacher ad
A job advertisement for a "Caucasian" part-time English teacher may violate Hong Kong's anti-discrimination ordinance. Above, an instructor points out Mandarin Chinese characters on a whiteboard at a night class in 2009. Reuters/Vivek Prakash

No need for blacks, Latinos and other racial minorities to apply for a job teaching English with at least one Catholic school in Hong Kong. A job advertisement for a part-time English teacher at Mission Covenant Church Sister Annie’s Kindergarten and Nursery shows the position is for white applicants only.

The ad, listed in the South China Morning Post’s classified section for two weeks earlier this month, has been denounced as discriminatory, the Hong Kong Free Press reported. It may also violate a Hong Kong ordinance against racial discrimination, according to the report.

The school sought a teacher “with a loving and kind-hearted personality, teaching experience and Caucasian.” The ad offered between HK$250 and HK$280, or as much as US$36 per hour, for eight to nine hours per week.

Yeung Lap Yan, executive secretary for the Mission Covenant Church, claimed that the ad’s inclusion of the word “Caucasian” was a mistranslation for the phrase “native English-speaking teacher” and said it had been deleted from the publisher’s website as of Wednesday. “Down in their heart, they would like to recruit a [native English-speaking teacher] but unfortunately they put ‘Caucasian’ on the advert,” the church secretary told the Free Press.

There were approximately 250,000 native English speakers working abroad as English teachers in more than 40,000 schools and language institutes around the world in 2012, according to the International TEFL Academy, which provides certification courses for individuals who teach English as a foreign language. Racial discrimination by foreign English-language academies is a common concern among minority applicants, wrote Edward Young, an African-American TEFL teacher in Japan and South Korea.

“I’d be lying if I didn't say that as a person of color, you may encounter some discrimination when seeking employment to teach English abroad,” Young wrote for ITEFLA's website in 2013. “To be blunt, some employers do consider ethnicity when making hiring decisions.”

“Personally, as an African-American teaching English abroad, I observed that it is generally not an employer’s deliberate intention to discriminate and, more often than not, it just boils down to their preconceived misconception of what a native speaker should look like,” Young wrote, adding that most TEFL certificate holders are at an advantage regardless of their race.

Experience is a key factor in getting hired, according to the teach-abroad website Go Overseas. It suggested that applicants put their level of experience at the very top of their resumes.

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