Speech by Mr. Michael SUEN
Secretary for Education
Annual Speech Day of
Sheng Kung Hui Tang Shiu Kin Secondary School
on 11 January 2008
Mr Pong, Ms Meech, Distinguished Guests, Parents, Teachers, and Students,
I am very pleased to be here with you today on this joyful occasion. This is the first Speech Day I attend in 2008. Let me first wish you all a bountiful year to come.
Since I assumed the post of Secretary for Education last July, I had attended quite a number of graduation ceremonies, and my spirit was uplifted, each and every time by the achievements of the graduates. I also felt the immensity and depth of their happiness. I was also struck by the passion and professionalism of their teachers. Today is no exception.
Sheng Kung Hui Tang Shiu Kin Secondary School was established in 1962. With the untiring efforts of its principals and the dedication of its staff, the School has not only kept pace but made significant progression with the times. It provides a favourable environment for its students to make good strides in their academic pursuits. The School also gives great emphasis to allow students to develop all-round so that they will learn to think independently, will learn to care for the community, and will learn to face their responsibilities and challenges in life sensibly and confidently.
Special mention deserves to be made about the importance given by the School for its students to acquire non-academic learning experiences. Environmental protection is a notable example. Environmental studies are built upon the integration of our values, our increasing ability to take advantage of important advancements in the relevant technologies and our heightened sense of civic responsibility. Through the informal curricula, the School helps students to develop an ethic of respect for the environment and the value of perseverance in the practice of environmental-friendly behavior. Indeed, the School has been pioneering the teaching of environmental education amongst its counterparts.
In the 21st century, educating our students to have the ability to cope with the fast changing world is an essential element of our education reform. To me, three of the essential attributes in this regard are communication, creativity and critical thinking.
Advances in digital and multimedia technology have transformed the traditional methods of communication and knowledge acquisition. People in any two far ends of the world can be connected via a multi-media way by a few clicks at our computers. A small piece of chips may store a rich tapestry of history of any country in the world today. The Internet has simply opened up an unlimited source of information. All these have resulted in revolutionary changes to the ways in which we study and conduct business. To every one of all graduates here today, this is a time when we must learn to equip ourselves with good communication skills so that we can convey our thoughts and ideas effectively and efficiently in order to keep up with the pace of our time. We also need to incubate a creative mindset so that we are more able to look at things from a host of different perspectives and to learn to develop the most appropriate solutions to come on top of the spectrum of challenges that may come our way. It is also crucial to be critical in an even-manner to maintain a balanced and unbiased world view to charter a course of action which gives practical, sensible and viable solutions.
The Government spares no efforts in reforming our education system with a view to equipping our younger generations with all these important attributes. The curriculum reform in the past years has also accorded great importance to encouraging students to build up knowledge through active participation. To make learning meaningful, we provide a favourable environment to students to relate their knowledge to life experiences and interact with others. New thinking skills nourished through life-wide learning and project learning have reaped success in improving the reading abilities of our youngsters as evidenced by some research findings of recent international studies. Our younger generation is proved to be avid readers with good comprehension ability.
In 2009, the new senior secondary curriculum will commence and the ideals embedded in the education reform will be further materialized. Among the four core subjects in the new senior secondary curriculum, Liberal Studies is the most significant and inspiring. Liberal Studies has been designed to broaden students’ knowledge base and enhance their social awareness through the study of a wide range of current issues. The curriculum of Liberal Studies focuses on themes of great relevancy and significance to students, society and the world. It enables students to make connections across different fields of knowledge and to broaden their horizons. Studying Liberal Studies requires a broad knowledge base which is built on all Key Learning Areas in the entire school curriculum. This subject discipline will further polish the communication skills, creativity, and critical thinking of our young people.
The successful implementation of the new senior curriculum reform requires the concerted efforts of the Government and the entire education sector. Thanks to the dedicated work of our partners in the sector, including the Principal and teachers here today, we have been making good progress in preparing for the implementation of the new curriculum. In the run-up to September 2009, there will still be a lot of preparatory work in our schools. I am confident that with the professional support and commitment of our school partners, we will succeed with our new curriculum.
All you graduates here today, your parents have given you selfless love and sterling support to turn you into decent young people. Your Principal and teachers have taught you to grow up as righteous citizens who care about the going-ons in our society. Some of you will continue with your studies while others will seek to work. Today marks the watershed and irrespective of the pathway of your next stage in life, you are expected to be responsible citizens, nonetheless. The education you have received so far will stand you in good stead.
Last but not the least, I would like to congratulate every graduate and award winner today for the wonderful achievements you have made. In you, I see continued prosperity and renewed vigor for Hong Kong .
(About 1000 words)