Speech by Mr Raymond H C Wong, JP
Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower
at the Annual Speech Day of
Sheng Kung Hui Tang Shiu Kin Secondary School
on Friday, 12 January 2007
Mr Pong, Rev. Ho, Ms Meech, Distinguished Guests, Parents, Teachers, and Students,
It gives me great pleasure to join you this afternoon for your Annual Speech Day and to share with our graduates this very important moment in their lives.
Your teachers and parents will be feeling very mixed emotions as they celebrate your achievements and have high hopes for your future. This sort of occasion often triggers an emotional response as all of us remember our own graduation at key stages of our lives.
We can all reflect on how very different the world we entered after our school days is from the one you will be entering.
Imagine the first graduates of this school founded nearly a half century ago in 1962. At the time, television, satellite transmissions and air travel were just developing. The students who started at this school in 1962 were much less likely to go beyond F3 and perhaps only a few could contemplate university or other tertiary education.
In 2007, post-secondary learning opportunities abound and I expect our graduates will explore many different paths as they build on the quality education SKH Tang Shiu Kin Secondary School has provided them in their secondary school days.
Let me fast forward from 1962 to the early 90s when you are just starting primary school. In late 1993, the worldwide-web came into being. Yes, the Web is only a teenager. It is difficult for any of us to imagine our lives without the internet, but our students here today only know a world with it. The world has profoundly changed in such a short time.
We could hardly imagine the impact the microchip and internet was going to have on our lives.
Many of your teachers have had one career. While they may have changed workplaces and enhanced their professional capacity, more than likely they have remained in education.
It is possible that graduates here might face up to 4 career changes through their lives. Some 4 of 5 jobs which existed in the early 90’s have disappeared or changed dramatically. Many more of you will be freelancers, will work in teams and task groups which demand strong interpersonal skills as well as important knowledge in specific areas or domains.
This is a major challenge for teachers and schools. It is not just what we know which will continue to be important but how we can prepare you for a less certain world.
This is why we emphasis ‘learning-to-learn’ and the values we all need to become life-long learners.
When we ask employers what they expect of our young people there is great convergence. They emphasize :
Increasingly our society needs people who can cross specialist borders. An economist must understand environmental issues; medical practitioners need to understand both personal and public health matters.
There is also an urgent premium being placed on cultural sensitivity and an ability to work across borders and cultures.
The education reforms we have been pursuing are focussed on supporting our young people to be the best learners they can be, and to draw on their own experience and interests, and to spark their passion for further learning.
This can happen of course inside and outside the classroom and the school. I know this school has made great effort to widen the learning horizons of students. For example the visit of the English Literature class to Mumbai , India in 2004 must have been a wonderful learning experience.
Leading students out of the classroom to prepare them for life in society cannot be achieved without the support of parents. I know graduates would want me to thank their parents for encouraging them to participate in these invaluable learning programmes and guiding them to strike a balance between their academic learning and the wider set of experiences which are equally important for life-long learning.
Underpinning the knowledge and skills you have and will need to continue to develop are a set of values to guide your futures. These values could include :
Your parents and teachers believe there is untapped capacity in each student who is graduating today. You may be developing an interest or deep love of the arts and technology or science, sports or languages or mathematics. Others may yet be searching for something to excite them or develop a passion which will take them through life.
The task of parents, teachers, schools and universities – is to help you discover your potential and a life-long love of learning.
Dear graduates, I warmly congratulate you on the successful completion of an important stage in your life. As you leave the school, I urge you to seize every opportunity to pursue knowledge and build your skills, to do your utmost to make the world a better place to live than the one we live in today.
To the principal, the teachers and the parents, I thank you for the boundless love and untiring efforts in supporting and guiding our young people in whom rest the hopes and future of Hong Kong . This is a day of harvest for you all. May I wish you all good health and the school’s continued success in the years to come.