Address at the HKU Faculty of Education 20th Anniversary Dinner
27 November 2004
Professor Arthur K C Li, GBS, JP
Secretary for Education and Manpower
Professor Bray, Mr. Yip, alumni, friends and members of the Faculty of Education, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join you this evening in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Faculty of Education. As I look around, I am delighted to see a lot of familiar faces. There are friends that I have been working with in various government councils and committees, as well as experts that I have spoken to and learn from in conferences and symposia. I am indeed privileged to be here to share this joyous moment with you all.
The Faculty of Education evolved 20 years ago from a rich heritage, having made its debut as the Department for the Training of Teachers far back in 1917. The Faculty has been playing a significant role in the basic training and continuing enhancement of the teaching profession. All along the Faculty of Education and the Education and Manpower Bureau have maintained a close partnership in the advancement of early childhood, primary, secondary and higher education, and in fostering knowledge, developing teacher talents and enhancing the education environment.
The future of Hong Kong lies in education, and the delivery of quality education depends on a professional, dedicated and high calibre teaching force. We must ensure that our system of teacher education equips teachers with the necessary knowledge and skills so that the work of our teachers would be of the highest possible quality. It is for this very reason that the work of the Faculty has been particularly important.
The Faculty has brought new heights to education development, both as a science and an art. Apart from teacher and principal education, the Faculty also contributes to top-quality research on such issues as curriculum development, catering for individual differences, task-based learning, assessment for learning, district-based induction and mentoring, just to name a few. In the conduct of all these projects, we cannot but admire the Faculty’s vigour, versatility, resourcefulness and dedication to serving the community. I am also excited about the Faculty’s recent programmes in training up aspiring principals and in strengthening the leadership skills of our newly appointed principals as they play a pivotal role in inspiring teachers and parents in enhancing the quality of education.
Distinguished members and alumni of your Faculty have played a leading role in various government councils, committees and task forces. They have contributed significantly to key decisions that shape the broad direction of education and major policies leading to such initiatives as those in the curriculum reform, school-based management, quality assurance, school accountability, home school cooperation, teacher and principal development, as well as the 3+3+4 academic reform.
As educators, we all share the same mission – nurturing our young people and bringing out the best in them. Indeed, it is for this very same mission that we are spearheading education reforms for our children, proposing a new academic structure and curriculum for the holistic senior secondary and university education that they need.
The reform will enable all students to receive a 3-year senior secondary education so that they are better prepared for work or further learning in the rapidly changing knowledge-based society. The new senior secondary curriculum will help strengthen students’ generic skills, including biliterate and trilingual fluencies, IT skills and a broadened knowledge base through the subject of Liberal Studies in particular. The introduction of career-oriented studies enriches students’ choice in meeting their different needs, aptitudes and interests. The new academic system will also provide multiple pathways to higher academic or vocational qualifications so that every student will be able to develop their potentials to the full.
Building on this foundation, universities can also have more time and space with an additional undergraduate year to provide a broader and more diversified curriculum, including, wherever appropriate and possible, overseas or Mainland exchange programmes. This will widen students’ horizons and expose them to both specialized and broad knowledge for a more balanced whole-person development.
The academic reform entails wide-ranging changes and far-reaching implications on our community. The successful implementation requires a number of pre-conditions including the development of a new curriculum, a new public examination and assessment mechanism, interface with university programmes, articulation with different pathways for life-long learning and teachers’ professional development. If successfully implemented, it will be a major landmark in our education history. Yet its success depends on everyone’s commitment and the concerted efforts of the government, the education sector and the wider community in bringing the expected benefits to our younger generation.
I have no doubt that we have the University and the Faculty’s full support in this visionary endeavour. We look to the universities in reforming the undergraduate curriculum as well as the admission criteria to reflect our renewed emphasis on critical and higher order thinking skills, as well as on students’ whole-person development beyond the acquisition of book knowledge. Needless to say, the Faculty of Education, together with your counterparts in local universities, will have a key role to play in developing the new senior secondary curriculum and preparing a new generation of teachers and principals that would competently serve as change agents in our schools.
Great partnership develops with time, but only if we share the same values and beliefs. The key to success must be for all of us to work together to achieve the same objectives. We need your full support and collaboration to help work out this landmark in our education history.
Finally I would like to congratulate the Faculty of Education again on its 20th Anniversary and wish it to continue to go from strength to strength.