Speech by Mr Raymond H C Wong, JP,
Permanent Secretary for Education
at the Charles & Elizabeth Frankland Moore Award Ceremony
on Thursday, 22nd January 2009
Professor Rosie Young, The Hon Rita Fan, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to participate in this Presentation Ceremony of Charles Frankland Moore Award, Elizabeth Frankland Moore Awards and Hong Kong Sino-British Fellowship Trust Scholars’ Foundation Award today. First of all, let me congratulate the four awardees on achieving the awards, which are to honour your accomplishments and provide due recognition to the outstanding achievements you have made in education. Undoubtedly, we have to thank the schools and teachers who have been working so hard to prepare you for such success. I believe providing students with quality education and enhancing their whole-person development are our shared goals. As for you, the pursuit of excellence must be your driving force, which is also the mission of Hong Kong education.
Curriculum Reform at the basic education level
The Hong Kong SAR Government shares the underlying principles for establishing the Awards. Our major goal in education is to enhance the whole-person development and life-long learning capabilities of students so that they have the ability to meet the challenges posed in the 21st century. We can all see that globalisation and the development of a knowledge-based economy have led to unprecedented worldwide changes. To rise to these challenges, we have reformed our system, curriculum and assessment practice in basic education since 2001 with an aim to enable every student attain all-round development in the domains of ethics, intellect, physique, social skills and aesthetics according to his/her own attributes. We hope that our students would develop self-confidence and a team spirit; develop national identity; be willing to put forward continuing efforts and contribute to the future well-being of the nation and the world at large.
With the significant progress made in the key areas of the curriculum reform, I am pleased to say that our efforts are bearing fruit. As school heads and teachers are in the front-line of the reform, they are the key determinant of students’ learning at school. We fully realise the importance of supporting teachers with ample resources and professional development programmes, through which schools are helped to develop a collaborative culture and teachers become reflective practitioners. Indeed, school heads and teachers have developed professionally and enhanced their teaching and learning strategies to strengthen student learning. As a result, our students’ generic capacities in such areas as communication, creativity and critical thinking have noticeably improved. Cultivation of students’ generic skills, positive values and attitudes has also been strengthened. Efforts by teachers and schools to employ effective strategies have also helped our students improve their basic competence in Chinese and English.
The “334” Academic Structure
Built on the successful experiences of the curriculum reform at the basic education level, the education reform process has now entered a consolidation stage, with the introduction of the “ 334” academic structure (i.e. 3 years each of junior and senior secondary education and 4 years of university undergraduate education) this September. A New Senior Secondary curriculum and assessment system, or NSS for short, will be in place in secondary schools.
Under NSS, all students should study a broad and balanced curriculum, and the student programme includes 4 core subjects (Chinese Language, English Language, Mathematics and Liberal Studies), 2 to 3 elective subjects and other learning experiences. With the study of the core subjects, students would develop enhanced literacy in English and Chinese, mathematics, and develop critical thinking, inquiry skills and multi perspective thinking. The electives containing a wide spectrum of subjects spanning arts, humanities and science including other foreign languages and Applied Learning will help broaden the learning of students while developing the potential of individuals. In addition, other learning experiences will further widen students’ horizons, develop their life-long interests and more importantly, nurture positive values and attitudes. As the NSS curriculum is to help ALL students to develop into balanced individuals, including those with special educational needs and gifted students, who would receive similar provisions and benefit under 334 with the necessary support.
To make assessment arrangements in line with the changes to the curriculum, the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education will be introduced and smoother multiple pathways to higher education and the workplace will be provided. The four-year undergraduate programme at university will also make room for the all-round development of university students. As such, the new “ 334” structure will provide a wider range of pathways towards further studies and career development, which articulate better with international higher education and the manpower requirements of the 21st Century.
Ladies and gentlemen, from my brief account of the curriculum reform and the development of NSS, you can see that students’ interest is our top priority. Our goal is to help students cultivate resilience and fortitude as well as excellent language skills in order to succeed in an ever-changing world, and face every challenge and make achievements like what the awardees here have done. For over seven years after the launch of the curriculum reform, we have been putting in place progressively a diversified and sustainable system of education which provides more choices and opportunities, lays emphasis on quality and encourages life-long learning. I am sure that the NSS will further endow our younger generation with the necessary capacities and capabilities to excel in their future roles in society, in whatever field and under whatever circumstances tomorrow’s world would bring.
And now, may I wish you all a happy and prosperous Year of the Ox! Thank you.