Speech by Mr Raymond H C Wong, JP
Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower, HKSAR
at the Presentation Ceremony of the
Second Hang Lung Mathematics Awards
on Tuesday, 19 December 2006
Professor Mirrlees, Professor Chan, Professor Lau, Mr Chan, Distinguished Guests, Teachers, Students, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great honour and pleasure to take part in the Second Hang Lung Mathematics Awards Presentation Ceremony this afternoon. We all hope that the devoted and inspiring teachers and their students who are here may one day follow the footsteps of the distinguished mathematicians, scholars and professionals who are here with us today.
The 21st century is an information era. Young people should be aware that they need knowledge and skills to help them lead a fuller life. Knowledge of mathematics is a necessity for everyone. It is an essential tool to enable us to understand the world around us and to contribute towards the prosperity of our society. Mathematics provides a means to create, acquire, organize and apply knowledge. We will not be surprised to find that many advances in science and technologies have their roots in mathematics.
Given the high importance of mathematics, in a knowledge economy, necessary knowledge and skills in the subject ranks high on our education agenda. Mathematics education is one of the Key Learning Areas in our Basic Education curriculum. We will continue to pay great attention to mathematics education in the new senior secondary curriculum by having it as one of the four core subjects along with Chinese, English and Liberal Studies. This means all our students will have the opportunity to study a three-year senior secondary course, resulting in enhanced language and mathematical abilities, life-long learning skills, and a broad and balanced knowledge base.
At the top layer, our exceptionally gifted students are given extensive support to further develop their potential. Since early 2001, the Education and Manpower Bureau has launched the “Support Measures for the Exceptionally Gifted Students Scheme” to help nurture and develop the potential and talent of these students. Over the last five years, around 5000 secondary students with outstanding performance or potential in the domains of leadership, mathematics and sciences were admitted to the Scheme. It is gratifying to know that our students have been making remarkable achievements in various international competitions. At the 2006 International Mathematical Olympiad, the Hong Kong team ranked 14 out of 90 countries, and all our six contestants were awarded medals: one gold, three silver and two bronze.
The Hang Lung Mathematics Awards is a unique event that features an assessment mechanism and procedures different from other competitions. Rather than answering a predetermined set of questions, students are invited to do research projects, identify and pose problems that may not have ready solutions, and to give oral defence to their investigations. New and valuable learning experiences are thus created for the students, who are stimulated by the incentive to break new ground and to advance their mathematical knowledge.
We should thank all those involved in the collaborative effort behind the Hang Lung Mathematics Awards. I would like to acknowledge especially Mr Ronnie Chan for his vision and generous donation that has made the Awards a reality and Professor YAU Shing-tung and Professor KAY Ka-shing for all their efforts in making the scheme a success.
Our gratitude should also go to the dedicated teachers who act as mentors for their students, and to the school heads for their encouraging support to students and their efforts in promoting mathematics education.
Last but not least, I would like to thank all winners of the Hang Lung Mathematics Awards, for without their participation, the vision of the Awards could not be realized. I congratulate them on their outstanding performance, and wish them every success in their study and future endeavours.