Speech at the Official Opening Ceremony of Phase II of Canadian International School
Mr Milliken, Mr Burger, Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls,
I am delighted to join you this afternoon to celebrate the official opening of Phase Two of the Canadian International School.
2. We are here to mark a new phase in the development of the Canadian International School from a small primary school with only 80 students in 1991 to a state of the art facility with 1,600 places from Reception to Year 12. We are here to express our gratitude to everyone who has worked tirelessly over the years in making the Canadian International School what it is today, one of the most reputable international schools in Hong Kong. We are here to fulfil our promise to our children.
3. As an international city of China, Hong Kong must also develop a workforce with global perspectives and cross-cultural social skills. At the same time, to maintain Hong Kong's cosmopolitan character, and to attract overseas talents and investment to Hong Kong, our education system must adequately cater for the needs of expatriate children who have moved to Hong Kong with their parents. We not only have to make them feel welcomed; we must also help them to bridge any cultural gaps that may come with the uprooting.
4. The Hong Kong SAR Government has a firm commitment to international education. In recent years, we have expanded the provision and choice of international education with the development of private independent schools, in addition to the traditional international schools that adopt a national curriculum.
5. We now have 50 international schools in the SAR providing education for 27,000 students of some 25 nationalities. Since 1999, we have allocated land for 10 private independent schools which will come into operation in stages between 2004 and 2006. In addition, there are some highly reputable English medium schools in Hong Kong with a long history and are highly sought after by local parents. As we liberalise the curriculum in these mainstream schools through the on-going curriculum reform, it is not inconceivable that some of these schools may also admit expatriate children in future. They have the potential of being an additional choice for expatriate students.
6. The Canadian International School has a special place among international schools in Hong Kong because of the strong Hong Kong-Canada ties that go back many generations; we even commemorate the birth of our respective national identities on the same day, the first of July each year. Only the Canadian International School has as its patron the Chief Secretary of Administration. By the way, Mr Donald Tsang has asked me to convey his best wishes to you on this happy occasion.
7. It takes the collective wisdom, ingenuity and generosity of many people to turn this $350m school project from a dream to reality. I wish to thank, in particular, past and present members of the Board of Governors, successive principals and Consuls General of Canada, and the teaching staff for their contributions to the Canadian International School.
8. Finally, I wish to offer you boys and girls, for whom this school is built, the best of luck and good wishes for a fulfilling learning experience in this wonderful school. The leading edge facility, the caring school culture and the professionally designed curriculum have provided you with an inviting learning environment that is conducive to an all-round development. I hope, you will value and maximise the opportunities which the school provides, and as you move on in life, you can look back with pride on your achievements and with fond memories of the happy days at the Canadian International School. May God bless you!