Speech at the Speech Day of the YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College
29 November 2008 (Saturday)
Speech Day of
The YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College
Speech by Mr Michael M Y Suen, GBS, JP
Secretary for Education
Bishop So, Dr Young, Mrs Chan, Distinguished Guests, Teachers, Parents, Students,
I am very pleased to be here today, to join you on this very special occasion. It has been many years since I graduated from school. I vaguely remembered it as one of the proud moments of my life. Proud to have achieved my first goal and looking forward, I might say, with some nervous anticipation to the next phase that would put me onto a career path, which I have enjoyed ever since.
Many of you will already know the path you wish to pursue in the next few years; others may be less certain. However, regardless, I have every confidence that you will succeed in your own way because of the education you received from the YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College.
YMCA Hong Kong is over 100 years old, a venerable age indeed, an age studded with pride and respect. It has not only provided Hong Kong with wholehearted social services and facilities, but also quality education. The establishment of the YMCA of Hong Kong Christian College in 2003 was a milestone for YMCA as it was the first secondary school they sponsored. And you eager young minds, now sitting in this hall, have the privilege of being the first batch of graduates from this College.
Just look around you, I am impressed that the College has an international setting like many cosmopolitan cities in the world. More than 30 per cent of your students came from countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, USA, India, Nepal and more. The cultural and language diversity among students and teachers is conducive to understanding and appreciating people on a multi-culture level.
In order to cater for this multi-culture environment, the College has successfully streamed her students according to their language and learning abilities. As a Direct Subsidy Scheme school, the College made the best use of her financial resources in building a strong professional team comprising over 60 teachers, and amongst them, 13 are from overseas.
There is little doubt that students here can learn from this multi-culture environment – a melting pot for the knowledge, values and attitudes of the East and the West. For expatriate students, attending a local school like this enables them to experience the unique culture in Hong Kong.
What’s more, the multi-national composition of students and teachers in this College has created a naturally ideal environment for students to master the global language – the English Language.
Ladies and gentlemen, young and not so young, we are now at a time when education is more important than ever. The world has changed as globalization has taken hold. Advancement in technology has broken down the traditional barriers of time, distance and geographical boundaries, unleashing the flow of information. In the 21st Century, prosperity depends on our capacity to compete effectively in the global market.
I believe that offering all-round education is the key to meet the challenges of the ever-changing environment. We must equip our young generations with knowledge of world affairs, nurture them with positive attitudes to respect and value diversities and cultural differences, and instill into them a sense of responsibility so that they are willing to contribute to the collective well-being of the global community.
Over the past decade or so, we have undertaken a comprehensive education reform programme. We have restructured the education system to enhance the overall standards of the students in such respects as languages, mathematics, thinking and problem-solving skills, creativity, adaptability and communication skills.
The New Senior Secondary Curriculum that will come into play next September is designed to provide the young generations with a full senior secondary education, enabling them to be self-motivated and proactive lifelong learners so that they can survive global competitions.
I am impressed that the College makes every effort to realize its motto: “Faith and Strength” by developing the school as a learning community based on Christian beliefs and values. I do believe that the College has been cultivating an environment for growth and development of young people of different nationalities, preparing them to face global competitions.
Having completed one important phase of your life, you all graduates will soon embark on the next exciting stage as you enter adulthood. I hope you will walk this road with a purpose and vocation. There will be hardships and burdens, but there will be rewards as well. As the great educator, Dr Samuel Massie once quoted these choice words:
“I have to live with myself, and so I want to be fit for myself to know. I want to be able, as days go by, always to look myself straight in the eye. I don't want to stand with the setting sun, and hate myself for things I have done.”
Dr Massie’s memorable lines speak of the challenges you will face. The biggest one is to know yourself so that you can live with yourself. If you can do that, you will find a great wealth of friendship, great stores of love and a wonderful peace of mind.
Set high goals for yourself and pursue them with cheer, vigour and stamina. If you stumble, pick yourself up and remember what made you stumble. Look at these mistakes as learning experiences. Remember the only mistakes that are unforgivable are those we repeat. The only challenges that are frightening are those we make no attempt to meet.
Challenges are opportunities in disguise. Every obstacle you overcome will provide you with another stepping stone to reach for the stars. And as you climb, be sure to reach back and give the person behind you a hand to help them climb too. Cultivate a spirit of goodwill and develop a moral compass which you must nurture and polish so that it will shine through your being.
You all graduates, it has been an honour for me to address you today and I thank you all for allowing me to share this memorable day with you. As months go by, you will have difficulty remembering who delivered your high school address at your graduation. What I hope you will remember and take to heart is Dr Massie’s advice to look yourself in the eye and ask yourself “Am I my best friend?” If you can say “yes”, you will have success beyond anything imaginable.
My warmest congratulations to all the proud parents, family members and teachers, and to the stars of today – our graduates. I also wish everyone present today happiness and fulfillment in life.