Speech by Mr Raymond H C Wong, JP
Permanent Secretary for Education
48th General Assembly Meeting of International Association
for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA)
on Monday, 8th October 2007
Professor Tsui, Dr Hegarty, Professor Leung, Honourable Members of IEA General Assembly, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to join the 48th General Assembly Meeting of IEA. I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all IEA delegates and guests to the meeting.
For the past 20 years there has been an increasing urgency for education reform across the world. Different parts of the world are all engaged in seeking better ways to prepare students for both foreseeable and unforeseeable challenges. Hong Kong is no exception to this global trend.
It has been seven years since Hong Kong published a comprehensive blueprint on education for the 21st century. It ushered in a new paradigm of learning and teaching that focuses on preparing students to be self-directed lifelong learners in an era of change and uncertainty. The reform proposals have been extensive and involve transformation of the ways we organize learning for our young generation, from pre-school through to a whole set of post-school pathways in education, training and work. We are now at the juncture of conducting interim reviews and evaluations of the reform so far. We are looking at how well we’ve been doing, and considering shaping and refining the agenda of the medium-term phase of our reform.
This review process leads us to an imperative to collect information and data on the educational achievement of our reform measures through various means. The international comparative studies conducted by IEA provide us with a platform for accurate measurement and validation. The sound professional basis of the work of IEA has been important to us in Hong Kong . We have taken part in IEA studies and have been receiving timely feedback on the impact of our various curriculum reform initiatives.
The first I would like to mention is the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or more familiar to the educators in Hong Kong as TIMSS. We have participated in TIMSS since its inception and have been using its data to improve teaching and learning of the two subjects in Hong Kong . I am pleased to say that our ranking over the years has given us a cause for celebration. But at the same time the study has illuminated for us areas where we can improve. Despite our good ranking in studies such as TIMMS we are determined not to be complacent.
In 2006, we joined the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) for the second time and also the Second Information on Technology in Education Study (SITES). The information from these studies contributes a lot to the understanding of our current developments in the two areas and has shed important light on the fine-tuning of our long term strategy.
Looking forward to 2009, we are going to join the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study, better known as ICCS for short. Data from ICCS 2009 will contribute significantly in charting our progress and development in citizenship education and national education, both of which occupy a prominant position on our education agenda.
The work of IEA is instrumental to building a common educational base in different regions of the world. It helps to lay the framework for the emergence of regional education hubs. We believe Hong Kong has what it takes to be the regional education hub in this part of the world: we have close links with Mainland China ; we have good infrastructure and communication networks and we enjoy a unique blend of Chinese and Western cultures. Non-local students will find in Hong Kong a social environment that enriches their educational experiences and facilitates cultural dialogue and exchanges. The whole experience of dialogue and exchange in an education hub will promote global collaboration and understanding that benefits both Hong Kong and the rest of the world.
Looking ahead, we hope leading international bodies such as IEA would conduct more studies on the importance and contribution of education hubs to global development. In this connection, the evolution of Hong Kong as a regional education hub may present a good case study for researchers.
Once again I would like to extend my warmest welcome to you all, in particular colleagues from other parts of the world. Apart from wishing you fruitful professional dialogues here, I also hope that you will enjoy your stay in Hong Kong , in particular at The University of Hong Kong, which is the gateway to both the dynamism of our city life as well as the tranquility of our country parks.