HOW DID THIS ALL BEGIN....
The founder of Project Share, Duncan Jepson, created the charity in 2010 as result of a documentary project, A Devil’s Gift, which he was producing at that time. The documentary focused on the widening social divide and diminishing social mobility in Hong Kong; while filming Duncan observed that many teenagers in Tin Shui Wai had never been to Hong Kong Island.This observation prompted him to question how they could compete for jobs outside of their own residential area if they had never even been to other areas, especially those with greater employment opportunities, and what could be done to address this issue and improve their chances in life.
Our aim is simply to make youth growing up in disadvantaged areas more competitive in a wider number of employment markets so that they can take advantage of more opportunities for social mobility.
The knee-jerk response to helping disadvantaged youth is to point to education “they should go to school”. They do, they are not unmotivated and most study very hard. Unfortunately, education and school are not the same thing; education is what children should receive and schooling is what they actually receive. Schooling in disadvantaged areas is generally of a lesser standard and breadth than that in wealthier areas. Further, it is well established that a child is very likely to emerge in the same socio-economic strata after attending a local school. This is part of what is called the correspondence principle.
As early as the 1950’s researchers working with youth and parents reframed the problem as not just about schooling but most importantly about culture and social networks. This is Melvin Kohn from sixty years ago, (Professor at Johns Hopkins University and previous President of the American Sociologist Association):
“Middle class parents are more likely to emphasize children's self-direction, and working class parents to emphasize their conformity to external authority.... The essential difference between the terms, as we use them, is that self-direction focuses on internal standards of direction for behavior; conformity focuses on externally imposed rules.”
Hong Kong has one of the highest income and wealth gaps in the developed world, and numerous indicators show that this gap continues to grow. This is reflected in part by its Gini coefficient (0.539), which is well-beyond levels considered dangerous for social stability. Other worsening indicators include the now near-impossibility of home ownership for many; rising poverty rates, especially among the young and elderly; rising rates of underemployment; decreasing rates of university admission for disadvantaged youth; and many others. The Hong Kong government has to some extent recognised the seriousness of these issues, setting a minimum wage, and proposing housing and limited educational initiatives. The scale and continued growth of these problems, and their impacts on life possibilities for Hong Kong’s young people, demand a great deal more. At Project Share, we hope to address these societal problems.