Speech by Ms Michelle Li, JP
Permanent Secretary for Education
Annual Speech Day
St. Paul’s Convent School on
18 November 2021 (Thursday)
Sr (Joanna) Cheung (Head of the School Sponsoring Body – Sisters of St Paul de Chartres), Sr Margaret Wong (Supervisor cum Principal), distinguished guests, parents, teachers, graduates and students,
Good evening. It is my great honour to join you all today at the Annual Speech Day of St Paul’s Convent School (SPCS). On this joyous occasion, may I extend my warmest congratulations to all graduates on their achievement of a significant milestone in their learning journey. I would also like to congratulate the school on its remarkable success in nurturing high quality graduates over the years.
Founded in 1854, SPCS is one of the oldest schools in Hong Kong. Today, SPCS continues to be one of the most prestigious and popular schools in the territory. But history tells us that not many schools or organisations can stand the test of time. So are there any defining characteristics that keep them survive and thrive throughout the years? When I was in Stanford Business School many years ago, two books by Jim Collins were often quoted -- “Good to Great” and “Built to Last”. These two books, which are based on research findings, do provide some food for thought on the commonalities of some great companies. It highlights, among other things, that we have to find our purpose and build our “core ideology”; we have to be ready for change, except the core beliefs and values; we have to think big, aim high; we have to try a lot experiments and keep what works; we have to groom leaders from within; we have to strive to do better tomorrow than we did today, just to name a few. And we can find many of these features in SPCS community.
I speak not only as a government official of the Education Bureau, but also as someone with close affiliation with SPCS in another capacity. I witnessed first-hand the transformative power of education in SPCS. All through the years, SPCS remains committed to the school’s core mission of providing an all-round education that enhances the quality of life for students, so that they can contribute positively to their home, profession and society. SPCS also puts strong emphasis on value education founded on the Paulinian 7Cs (namely, charity, conscience, confidence, courage, creativity, competence and commitment). Under the stewardship of the school management and the guidance of the inspiring teachers, Paulinians always aim high, think big, explore new frontiers, make a positive difference in society, and constantly strive for excellence in multiple arenas. Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, I have seen many Paulinians in different inter-school events and competitions, and have presented many prizes to Paulinian teams, ranging from Basic Law quizzes to STEM-related initiatives. It is always pleasing to see well-mannered Paulinians in their iconic uniforms in these events.
In many ways, SPCS echoes the Government’s policy in education. We share the vision to nurture future generations to become citizens who are socially responsible and equipped with a sense of national identity, love for Hong Kong and international perspectives. We promote all-round education and whole-person development. We attach great importance to value education. In particular, I would like to applaud SPCS’ leadership in promoting STEM and IT education, which is among our top priorities too. SPCS is one of the pioneers in promoting mobile learning and IT across the curriculum, and has initiated a school-based e-Book Development Project that stimulates creativity, critical thinking, media appreciation and production. This is instrumental to equipping the students for the rapid scientific and technological developments ahead, and is exceptionally important in times of the pandemic. SPCS’s solid foundation has also proved to be extremely useful in gearing up Paulinians for the unprecedented challenges under the COVID-19 pandemic. When face-to-face classes were suspended intermittently, teachers and students can adapt more seamlessly to the “new normal” using flexible and blended learning and teaching mode to sustain students’ motivation and learning effectiveness.
SPCS always keeps abreast of, and sometimes ahead of, times. The Paulinian spirit of solidarity is admirable. I am very pleased to learn that SPCS has responded positively to the “COVID-19 Vaccination Programme”, and at least 70% of SPCS students, teachers and school staff have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine for more than 14 days, and the whole school has already resumed whole-day face-to-face classes starting from the end of October. On behalf of the Education Bureau, I would like to thank the vaccinated students, teachers and school staff for their concerted effort in making the school campus a better protected place and setting an example for others.
Dear graduates, today is a day that you should be proud of. It marks the end of your secondary education and the start of a new chapter in your lives. On this memorable moment, I would like to share with you a famous quote from the physicist Albert Einstein: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” As you move forward into the next stage of your lives, you will undoubtedly be confronted with both new opportunities and new obstacles. Challenges abound in a world of VUCA – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. But let’s turn challenges into opportunities. Indeed, the lingering COVID-19 Pandemic reminds us that never again shall we take what we have for granted. Count our blessings. Take a moment to thank your parents for their boundless love and unwavering support throughout the years. Thank the principal and teachers for their inspiring teaching and guidance. Celebrate this day and share the achievements with those who helped make it happen. More importantly, find your anchor and core values. Paulinian’s 7Cs (charity, conscience, confidence, courage, creativity, competence and commitment) can be your guide in making wise choices throughout your life journey. I am confident that the solid foundation that you have built in SPCS will enable you to surmount any hindrance on the route to your goals in life.
Last but not least, I wish SPCS and all graduates every success in the years to come. May I also wish everyone here and their family good health and happiness. Thank you.