Speech by Mr Raymond H C Wong, JP
Permanent Secretary for Education and Manpower
at St Clare’s Girls’ School 80th Anniversary Speech Day
on Thursday, 7 June 2007
Sr Catherine, Mrs Chiu, Distinguished guests, Parents, Teachers and Students,
It gives me great pleasure to join you this afternoon for your 80th Anniversary Speech Day.
An 80th birthday is a very special occasion to celebrate. Our graduates will no doubt remember this very important moment in their lives shared with the grand St. Clare’s Girls’ School.
Our graduates today share an invisible tie with all the graduates of the past 80 years and indeed those who will follow them. You are part of a school community which has nurtured all its students. St. Clare’s graduates can be seen in all walks of life as they build strong families, engage in many fields and professions and made significant contributions to our society, not just in Hong Kong , but also in other parts of the world.
It is difficult to imagine what the world was like for the first students who entered St. Clare’s 80 years ago. We can however be certain that their teachers and parents, just like now, would have dedicated themselves to developing the talents of their students, their critical thinking, and care and sensitivity for others less fortunate in the community.
In those 80 years the world has changed dramatically in the ways in which women can participate in, and contribute to, society.
Let me give one example. Beijing will hold the Olympic Games which will excite our passions in 2008. Here in Hong Kong we are very fortunate to be able to share in being part of an ‘Olympic City” by hosting the Equestrian Events. Equestrian has an important characteristic – i.e. women riders compete on equal turns with men.
Now, let us go back in time to the first Olympic games of the modern era, 1896, over 100 years ago and well years before St. Clare’s began its journey in 1927. If I were to ask you how many women participated in those Games you might or might not guess the answer. In 1896 there were no women participants. It was an all-male affair. Even in the post-World War II era, in the 1956 Olympics women were only allowed to run 200 meters – one-half lap of the track. Nearly 30 years later in 1984, women ran the first Olympic Marathon, which is about 104 laps of the track. Of course the 3o years did not make women that much stronger physically; but attitudes about the potential of people, including the capacities of women, had changed dramatically.
In next year’s Olympics, women will comprise nearly 50% of the participants. All sports, all events.
This story illustrates in just one example how dramatically the world has changed over the past 80 years. St. Clare’s has always believed young women can do anything and develops the high quality graduates we can see here today.
The theme of this momentus occasion; Think Deep! Go Global! Reach High! echos the ambitions your parents and teachers have for you in your future lives.
Think Deep! means to make connections, link up knowledge, look for solutions, continue to ask questions, to persevere even when learning is hard.
Go Global! means to look beyond our immediate horizon, our immediate borders. It requires us to place a premium on tolerance, to accept diversity, to be culturally sensitive and explore new places and cultures.
Reach High! Your parents and teachers believe there is great potential in all of you. You might end up in developing your interest in arts or languages, sports or sciences. You may end up with a life-long passion in something you do not even imagine at this moment on this day. The task of parents, teachers and future teachers, this school and your future places of learning, is to help you discover your potential and a life-long love of learning.
I wish St. Clare’s the very best for its next 80 years. To the principal, the teachers and parents, I thank you for your fantastic effort in nurturing our young women in whom we trust the future of Hong Kong .
Congratulations to all our graduates and I wish you the very best future.