Speech by Ms Michelle Li, JP
Permanent Secretary for Education
11th Learning & Teaching Expo – School Leadership Conference
9 December 2021 (Thursday)
Mr. LEE (Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hong Kong Education City Limited (HKEdCity), Victor (Executive Director of HKEdCity), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon. It gives me great pleasure to join you at today’s School Leadership Conference. I would like to extend my warmest welcome to all of you, especially speakers and participants from the Mainland and overseas.
The Learning and Teaching Expo has, for a decade, established itself not only as a local signature event but also Asia’s leading education expo. We are blessed to host it in physical form, supplemented by hybrid mode, amidst the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. We are encouraged by the enthusiastic response, with a new record of over 360 exhibition booths and 270 programmes covering a great variety of inspiring topics.
The theme of the School Leadership Conference -- “Actualising Future Ready Education” – is indeed a topic dear to our hearts. None of us have the crystal ball to foretell our future. However, as the saying goes, “The future starts today, not tomorrow.” What we do today, individually or collectively, helps shape the future. We can sharpen our vision and foresight to identify the global and local trends that are shaping our future. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic is a vivid reminder that that we live in a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. There are many interactive forces at work, rapidly transforming or even disrupting our ways of life. I would just highlight three aspects that have an impact on education – Technology, Diversity and Sustainability.
First, Technology. The ABCD of emerging technology, namely Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain (B), Cloud Computing (C) and Data Analytics (D)) are reshaping our world. We are now undergoing the fourth Industrial Revolution, characterised by a fusion of technologies blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. With COVID-19 as the catalyst, remote office, e-commerce, telemedicine and blended learning have grown in scale and popularity under the new normal. Technological advancement both demands and enables innovation in education.
In Hong Kong, thanks to our dedicated and versatile teachers, our schools quickly harness the power of technology to adopt innovative teaching practices, such as online and blended mode of learning, immersive learning with virtual reality and augmented reality, artificial intelligence and big data. We witness the emergence of a rich repertoire of e-learning resources and innovative pedagogies. We are pleased that our heavy investments in the IT infrastructure, hardware, software, professional training and support over the years have produced fruit, enabling us to suspend classes without suspending learning under the pandemic.
Going forward, we should further leverage the ABCD of technology in enhancing learning and teaching, assessment for learning, teachers’ professional development and school administration. Our younger generations should not remain as consumers of technology; they should also be designers, producers and explorers of new applications and new frontiers of technology. They should also know the opportunities and challenges, benefits and risks. On our part, we will ensure that no student is left behind in this digital world due to a lack of means. Building on earlier success, the Government has set aside $2 billion for the Quality Education Fund to launch a three-year programme, which consists of “Provision of Mobile Computer Devices and Internet Services Support Scheme” and “e-Learning Ancillary Facilities Programme”, starting from this school year. The objective is to enable needy students to have equal access to e-learning. Furthermore, to ensure our students are not only technically savvy but are also equipped with information and media literacy, extra funding will be provided to help students learn how to discern the authenticity of information and safeguard against the adverse effects of disinformation on the Internet through nurturing their critical thinking skills. I am confident that with our concerted efforts, students will become informed, skilled and responsible users and explorers of technology.
The second aspect is Diversity. The global village is full of people with diverse culture, background, beliefs, abilities and learning needs. To live in harmony, we must strive for unity in diversity. We should respect and celebrate differences. Among the ten priority values promulgated by us, three are relevant -- “Empathy”, "Respect for Others" and "Care for Others", despite our differences. We seek to nurture our students as effective communicators, collaborators and team players in a diverse setting. We also strive to provide a broad curriculum and multiple pathways to cater for students with different aptitude and abilities. Our education goes beyond academic domains. We are promoting Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET). We also offer ample opportunities for students to join exchanges or further their studies in the Mainland and overseas. In tandem, we have also substantially increased our resources on integrated education and special education. With these efforts, we hope to promote a more inclusive education system that caters for the diverse needs of our learners and society.
Sustainability is receiving increasing attention. The impacts of climate change and extreme weather are felt across all regions, sectors, and systems, bringing risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, and even the survival of humankind and the living world. Students and educators alike should enhance awareness and knowledge of our environment and sustainability. Mere knowledge is insufficient; we have to change our habits, preferably at a young age. Schools and kindergartens are good training grounds to prepare students for a zero emission world.
Against the above backdrop, our education must keep pace with the changes and equip our next generation with the Attitude, Skills and Knowledge (or “ASK”) that are relevant and necessary for them to survive and thrive in the future world. In my humble view, our starting point is our attitude and values, which are the compass guiding our learning journey. Positive thinking and value is the key. Positive thinkers see and seize opportunities amidst challenges. They demonstrate resilience, perseverance and grit in face of adversities and uncertainties. That is why Hong Kong attaches increasing importance to values education and we have just started piloting our updated curriculum framework. To complement the curriculum, we continue our campaign “My Pledge to Act” and encourage students to "Be Grateful and Treasure What We Have, Stay Positive and Optimistic". We have recently added “Diligence” （勤勞）as our tenth priority value, not only to rekindle the Hong Kong spirit of hard work but also to appreciate hands-on work and physical labour as a valuable learning experience for character building.
We will continue our efforts in nurturing many generic skills and competencies that stand the test of time across centuries – communication skills, quantitative literacy, creative, critical and lateral thinking, collaboration, agility, perseverance, just to name a few. Perhaps most importantly, we promote the life-long learning culture. As the shelf life of our knowledge and skills is getting shorter and shorter, all of us have no choice but to keep learning, relearning, reskilling, upskilling to keep pace with the ever-changing world.
Dear educators and leaders, you are all lifelong learners who serve as role models. At today’s School Leadership Conference, our esteemed professors will share their insight on the role of school leadership in the 21st century and explore innovative ways to achieve better learning and teaching. This echoes our mission to enhance teachers’ professional development. The Education Bureau attaches great importance to the professional development of school principals and teachers. In this connection, we have been implementing a series of measures as recommended by the Task Force on Professional Development of Teachers, including the establishment of a Professional Ladder for Teachers in Hong Kong. Starting from the 2020/21 school year, the Education Bureau has been providing structured training for teachers at multiple levels, that is core training for newly-joined teachers, training programmes for in-service teachers, and enhanced training for teachers aspiring for promotion. School leaders are encouraged to make the most of these training programmes and draw up school-based professional development plans that seek to enhance teachers’ professional capabilities, with a view to supporting the development of their schools.
We firmly believe that education is the best investment for our future. Over the last four years, we have boosted recurrent education spending by 26%, now amounting to over HK$100 billion, and accounting for about one-fifth of the Government's total recurrent expenditure. We are grateful for the staunch support and remarkable commitment of our dedicated educational professionals in Hong Kong who serve as our partners. Let us join hands in nurturing our younger generations as persons of a good character, equipped with the attitude, skills, competencies and knowledge to become future-ready citizens, contributing to the betterment of the society, the nation and the world.
Finally, let me thank the Hong Kong Education City again for making this expo a valuable platform for educators to share and reflect. I look forward to learning from the renowned speakers of this Conference. I am sure lessons learned today will inspire us to build a better world tomorrow together. May I wish the Learning and Teaching Expo a resounding success, and all of you fruitful experience. Thank you.