Opening Ceremony of the
Hong Kong International IT in Education Conference 2006
Monday, 6 February 2006
Speech by Professor Arthur K C Li, GBS, JP
Secretary for Education and Manpower,
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Distinguished professors, principals, teachers, and IT in education partners,
It is my great pleasure to be here at this opening ceremony of the Hong Kong International IT in Education Conference 2006. On behalf of the Education and Manpower Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and the Conference Organizing Committee, I welcome all participants, in particular overseas scholars and partners who have traveled a long way to Hong Kong . I hope you will find time to explore our vibrant and cosmopolitan city which has a unique blend of eastern and western cultures, and enjoy your stay here.
Samuel Johnson once said, “Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." This 18th century British scholar certainly had great foresight. Nowadays, students no longer rely solely on teachers and classroom lessons to get information. They can take their own initiative to access new knowledge via the IT platform. This is the e-learning era, and our children must be fully equipped for it.
In 1998, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government announced for the first time a five-year strategy on IT in education known as “Information Technology for Learning in a New Era”. Our vision was to link up our students with the vast network of knowledge worldwide, and to prepare them for independent and lifelong learning.
This strategy heralded the beginning of our efforts to integrate IT into learning and teaching. Within the five-year period, we had laid the necessary infrastructure, provided teachers with training on the use of IT, and collected a rich repository of digital education resources. Regional centres of IT excellence had emerged, innovative pedagogies and practices had surfaced, and students' generic IT skills had improved.
A survey conducted in early 2004 found that, on average, each primary school was equipped with over 90 computers and secondary school about 250. This was well above our original target. All schools now have broadband connection to the Internet. Many of them are enjoying very high surfing speed via optical fibre.
We also recognized the important role of teachers as enablers of IT in education. By the end of the 2002-03 school year, all teachers had completed IT training at the basic level. Over three-quarters of them reached the intermediate level, and over one-quarter passed the upper intermediate level.
In addition, we have developed and pioneered digital resources for schools, established the Hong Kong Education City which is now a highly popular education portal, and held hundreds of activities including expositions, competitions and awards to promote IT.
The first 5-year strategy ended with success in 2003, but the momentum was not lost. Following a comprehensive review and extensive consultation with our key stakeholders, we released in 2004 our second IT in education strategy called “Empowering Learning and Teaching with Information Technology”, for the 2004-07 school year. Let me highlight some of the key initiatives.
To further empower our teachers and school heads, we have set up Learning Centres for teachers to develop and share IT skills, and provided IT leadership training for our school heads. They now have access to over 20,000 items of digital curriculum resources and materials catering for schools' needs. More will be available as we introduce incentive schemes to encourage the public and private sectors to develop quality instructional software.
We are at the same time improving our schools’ IT infrastructure : upgrading their computers, installing additional LCD projectors connecting them to wireless systems, and giving them the flexibility to allocate resources to support school-based IT plans.
Last but not the least, we will bridge the “digital divide” in the school sector through a computer recycling scheme, whereby all needy students will be provided with recycled computers duly refurbished and upgraded, as well as internet connectivity at home.
Since 1998, we have gone a long way in helping to create an e‑learning and e-teaching community of students and teachers. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for making this happen. Without you, we will not be making such progress. In this three-day Conference, there will be about 150 presentations on various topics, mostly by our teachers. I am grateful for their support, and appreciate their willingness to share their experience in using IT to enhance learning. I hope the Conference will serve as a useful platform for them to disseminate good pedagogical practices, and to collaborate and interact with each other.
I would also like to thank the Organizing Committee for their hard work and dedication. I wish all of you a most fruitful programme, and a prosperous Year of the Dog.