21 October 2008 (Tuesday)
The 2008 Hang Lung Mathematics Awards Presentation Ceremony
Speech by Mr. Michael M Y Suen, GBS, JP
Secretary for Education
Professor Mirrlees, Professor Yau, Mr Chan, Distinguished Guests, Teachers, Students, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to join you this evening in the 2008 Hang Lung Mathematics Awards Presentation Ceremony.
To me, there is no dispute about the value of mathematics.
It contributes to the advancement of different fields of knowledge and is vital to the prosperity of our society. It is hard to imagine how one can survive in the modern world without some mathematics.
Thanks to the efforts devoted in mathematics education by different stakeholders, our students have attained very good performance in some important international events.
In the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2003, Hong Kong students came third in Mathematics at Grade 8 and second at Grade 4. Our 15-year-old students ranked third in Mathematics in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2006. In the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) 2008, the Hong Kong team won three silver medals, one bronze, and also one honourable mention.
Next year, we will start our New Senior Secondary Academic Structure or the NSS for short. The new curriculum will put more emphases on the relevance of mathematics to our daily life, and include more project work and advanced applications of mathematical knowledge. We believe that these developments will enable our students to better meet the challenges posed by the rapidly changing world which requires essential skills like creativity, critical thinking and logical reasoning.
The Hang Lung Mathematics Awards provides an excellent opportunity to expose students to these experiences by allowing them to choose a topic and conduct their study independently before they submit a research report. In doing so, students have to demonstrate their creativity and a whole range of generic skills, including those of collaboration, information technology, numeracy, problem-solving, self-management and study.
Further, the oral defense of their findings is an exciting opportunity for students to develop their communication and critical thinking skills. These kinds of experiences are very important as they help foster students to become self-directed and motivated learners.
I would like to acknowledge all those involved in organising the Hang Lung Mathematics Awards. I would also like to thank Mr Ronnie Chan for his support and generous donation to make the awards a major bi-annual event in Mathematics education.
My special gratitude also goes to Professor Yau Shing Tung for his efforts in stimulating creativity and encouraging intellectual discovery in mathematics and science among secondary students and teachers in Hong Kong.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all winners of the Hang Lung Mathematics Awards. May I also thank all teacher supervisors for their guidance and mentorship to their students.