A student nurse in the final stages of her nursing degree has dropped out of her course and is taking her college to the Human Rights Commission.
Linda Tang, a 42 years old student at UNITEC, left her course because she said her tutors were making it impossible for her to pass.
Tang’s tutors complaint is that her accent made it difficult for her patients to understand her.
Tang who holds a degree in English, has taught English at a Chinese university and passed an English language test says the complaint is just an excuse and that she is being penalised just for the way she talks.
More than a third of UNITEC’s student nurses are Asian and New Zealand has a broad range of different cultures and ethnic diversities.
19% of the population of Auckland identifies itself as belong to the Asian ethnic group.
The case has again raised the issue of racial discrimination towards migrants in New Zealand and drawn comment from bloggers and posters all over the net. One comment on the forum ChannelNewsAsia.com is particularly pertinent:
“I applaud her for taking up the case. I hope it gets a good hearing and we shall know what is the truth.
English is spoken with all kinds of accents. I cannot understand my British colleague who speaks with a strong Yorkshire accent? And I have been using English my entire working career!
We just need to be tolerant with each other. Language is more than the spoken form.“
It’s a good point and well made. Why should Chinese people be singled out when English is spoken with a variety of accents in multi-racial New Zealand, including the strong Kiwi accent.
Can the overstretched and understaffed health service afford to lose valuable nurses because of the way they talk?