Opening Ceremony of
Rotary Centenary Institute for Wetland Conservation
on 23 February 2005 in Mai Po Nature Reserve
Speech by Professor Arthur K C Li, GBS, JP
Secretary for Education and Manpower
Mr Eric Bohm, Mr Mak, Presidents of five Rotary Clubs, ladies and gentlemen,
I am much honoured to be here today to participate at the Opening Ceremony of the “Rotary Centenary Institute for Wetland Conservation”.
Protecting the environment is the responsibility of everyone. We have a duty not only to ourselves but also to our future generations. In recent years, the public has greater awareness on environmental issues in Hong Kong such as waste separation, reduction, recycling and nature conservation. Environmental education has become a matter of common concern in Hong Kong and the world at large since it is one of the most fundamental and important strategies to combat environmental problems. At the same time, environmental education plays an important role in school education in developing positive values such as responsibility, respect for nature, commitment and sustainability as emphasized in our education reform. As a result, environmental education is receiving greater attention in schools.
To synergize societal effort, the Education and Manpower Bureau, together with other key stakeholders such as Environmental Campaign Committee, Environmental Protection Department and other non-government organizations, have started the “Green School Movement”. Our vision is to help all schools in Hong Kong to develop the green school culture, in which students will be nurtured to become citizens with strong environmental awareness, contributing to sustainable development both locally and globally.
To realize this vision, we have formulated a strategic plan embedding various measures including incorporating appropriate learning elements in the school curriculum, organizing teacher training programmes and promoting annual environmental education schemes such as the Hong Kong Green School Award Scheme and Student Environmental Protection Ambassador Scheme. All these measures have positive impact on schools in promoting environmental education.
To achieve a greater impact, we advocate students to learn in the real life context. Their experiences in school, family, the community and the natural surroundings help them to develop positive values and become environmental citizens. The Mai Po Nature Reserve and Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park provide a valuable opportunity for students to learn effectively. Learning in these “Natural Classrooms” enables our students to gather first hand information and develop their personal experience and intimate relationship with the environment. This wonderful piece of wetland in Mai Po, besides being a unique habitat for its rich flora and fauna, also provides an excellent outdoor learning site. Each year, over 40,000 people including 10,000 students join the World Wide Fund Hong Kong’s guided education programme at Mai Po. We hope more could benefit in future.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank WWF for supporting environmental education in schools through providing many high quality educational resources, and organizing training programmes for teachers promoting environmental education. Under the sponsorship of Quality Education Fund, WWF established an Environmental Education Teachers Learning Centre at Island House. In response to their dedication to environmental conservation and education, the Education and Manpower Bureau subsidizes the WWF’s Mai Po School Visit Programme and co-organizes some teacher training programmes for them.
While much has been achieved in the field of environmental education, much more remains to be done. Obviously, it is not a matter for the Government alone. Collaboration from non-governmental organizations is very important. The Rotary Centenary Institute for Wetland Conservation, a joint venture between WWF and 5 Rotary Clubs in Hong Kong , is a very good example of community support to education. The Institute serves to further the school environmental education programmes and to support the continuing adult education by providing training courses on wetland to professional groups to enhance their understanding in wetland conservation.
We sincerely thank WWF Hong Kong and Rotary International for their contribution to environmental education. With the collaboration of government agencies, non-government organizations and schools, we have confidence that our youths can be nurtured as citizens with strong environmental awareness and will contribute to an enduring society and a sustainable planet for our next generations. Thank you.