Speech by Mrs Fanny Law, GBS, JP
Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower
at the Speech Day of Munsang College (Secondary Section)
on Friday, 2 December 2005
Graduates of 2005, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am honoured to share this joyous moment with the graduates whose accomplishments we are here to celebrate, and to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of Munsang College.
Graduation marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. Looking at the young faces in the audience, I cannot help thinking about my high school graduation more than 30 years ago. Life was much simpler then. Academic success and a university degree more or less guaranteed a good and lasting job. Today, the world is much more complex and is changing more rapidly. People are better educated and, in a globalized economy, have to face stiff competition at an international level. To succeed in such an environment demands new skills.
Topping the list of survival skills is a clear vision of what is important and right to do amidst the competing demands on our time. Let me share with you a story.
In a business management class, the lecturer took out a wide-mouthed jar and filled it with fist-sized rocks and asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone said “Yes”. Then, he took out a bucket of small pebbles and poured into the jar. The pebbles worked their way down into the spaces between the rocks. He asked the class again, “Is the jar full?” By this time, the class got the message and said, “Probably not”.
“Good,” the lecturer replied, and reached for a bucket of sand which he poured into the jar until the spaces between the rocks and pebbles were completely filled. He asked once more, “Is the far full?” The class said, “Yes”. The lecturer took out a pitcher of water and filled the jar to the brim with water. He then asked the class what lesson they could draw from the illustration. One student said, “no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it”. “No,” the lecturer replied, “the truth is: If you do not put the big rocks in first, you will never get them in at all.”
God is fair; every person has twenty-four hours in a day. How you make use of the time available is critical for your well-being and success. There is never enough time to do everything; we must therefore prioritise, manage our time effectively and enhance our efficiency.
As students, you have to allocate your time between work and play, between academic work and extra-curricular activities, between family and friends, between personal pursuits and social services etc. Whatever your interest and preference may be, however, always find time to read widely and expose yourselves to literatures of other times, geographies and cultures. This will help you to broaden your horizon, to keep up with changes, and to become a learned person. In a knowledge society, the ability to learn and move with the time is an important survival skill. Learn how to find sources of information and knowledge; and build networks of contacts. Learning can take place in formal educational programmes, as well as casual conversation with knowledgeable people. Today, to be successful, building social capital is as important as amassing financial and intellectual capital.
There are various pathways to success, but regardless of the path you choose, there are three golden rules that can help you to lead a better life, build better relationships and establish a successful career.
First, know yourself. Be aware of your strengths and build on them. Understand and accept your weaknesses for no one is perfect, but strive to overcome them. Choose a job or lifestyle that gives you satisfaction. Only if you enjoy or see meaning in what you do will you work with energy and commitment which are the essential ingredients of success. Here, you will need the support and understanding of your parents to refrain from imposing on you ideas which are not appealing.
Second, focus on your goals. Be aware of the world around you, and stay on course amidst forces that may pull you in different directions. Be tolerant of uncertainty and do not mistake narrow-mindedness for focus. Be alert to opportunities and imagine the possibilities that they may open up for your future. Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”, for knowledge is based on the past, imagination takes you to the future. Dream the impossible dream, and do not be despondent about failures. It is a truism that if you have not experienced failure, you will not truly appreciate the joy of success. See failure as a learning experience.
Third, maintain a balanced life and a sense of humour. Savour the richness of life and be willing to try new things. Take time to step back and contemplate your life holistically to seek a balance among work, family, friends, community, recreation, spirituality and health. Look for the silver lining in any mishap and handle it with humour. When things get tough, you can choose to portray yourself as a victim or laugh it off. Always be thankful for what you have, and do not lament about what you do not have.
You have much to be thankful for being a student of Munsang College . The school has strong leadership and professional teachers who are dedicated to students’ success. They have prepared you well in facing up to new challenges. For 80 years, Munsang College has nurtured generations of public-spirited citizens and leaders for Hong Kong . On behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, I thank the school managers, principals, teachers and staff for their hard work and contribution to education over all these years.
Dear Graduates, be grateful to your parents and teachers who have coached you, cared for you, nurtured you to make you who you are today. As you soar higher, do not forget those who have taught you how to fly. I wish you well on your journeys through life. Remember you control your own destiny. Know yourself, have faith, be a lifelong learner, follow your passion, and you will succeed.
I also wish everyone present today happiness and fulfillment in life.