27 November 2008 (Thursday)
Annual Speech Day of Heep Yunn School
Speech by Mr Michael M Y SUEN, GBS, JP
Secretary for Education
The Rt. Rev. Louis Tsui, Rev. Chan, School Managers, Mrs Lau, Distinguished Guests, Parents, Teachers and Students,
It gives me great pleasure to join you this afternoon.
First and foremost, let me congratulate all graduating students. Your achievements give testimony to the unfailing love and care of your parents in nurturing you. No doubt your Principal and teachers also plays a key role in all these. You owe your School for what you have been nurtured in those formative years you spent here.
In the 1930s, Heep Yunn started as an orphanage to provide education to young women and orphans. Thanks to the dedication of the principals, teachers and members in the school sponsoring body and school council over the years, Heep Yunn now stands tall among other elite schools in Hong Kong.
Heep Yunn is doing its utmost to make its students all-rounded persons with its holistic education vision. The School gives an equal weight in instilling virtuous character and performing well academically.
I have been reliably informed that this is a school which does not only pick winners. Students have every possible opportunity to shine. Here, everyone counts. Every effort in academic, artistic, creative, sports or social realms is treasured. Students are motivated to empower one another to bring out the best in all.
Heep Yunn is not alone in holistic education. The education reform introduced since 2001 already emphasizes whole-person development. The new academic structure for senior secondary education to be implemented next September will mark a new milestone of our work. Under the new structure, we aim to equip our students with the requisite skills and abilities, making them competent and confident in coping with the fast-changing circumstances in this globalised world.
We will put in place a broader and more diversified senior secondary curriculum to cater for the different interests and aptitudes of students. It will avoid the premature streaming of students into narrow science, arts or commercial streams. To facilitate students’ whole-person development, a key component under the new curriculum is non-academic learning experiences, or the so called “Other Learning Experiences”. The purpose is to broaden students’ exposure, develop their diversified potentials to the fullest, and cultivate amongst them a sense of social responsibility and a commitment to care and serve.
I am delighted to learn that Heep Yunn is making good progress in preparing for the new curriculum. It will focus on sports, music, cultural and service activities to enable its students to attain a balanced development. Other learning experiences opportunities will be flexibly arranged within and outside school hours.
After the above preamble, I am going to move on to the main theme of my speech that you will, in my belief, have more personal interest.
Hong Kong is not short of talents. Indeed, this was a main contributory factor for our success in the past decades. But a person who can perform well is not necessarily the one who can lead others to perform well. I am sure that many of you will excel in your future pathways given the solid foundation laid on to you at Heep Yunn. There will come one day when others will look upon you as leaders in your chosen fields. For this, you need to attain some requisite skills - this is called Leadership.
Let me share with you some of my thoughts.
To me, a leader is someone who points out the right direction when everyone else gets lost. A leader is someone who rekindles the dying spirit when everyone falters. A leader is someone who insists to abide by principles when everyone wishes to cut the corners or to tread on the line, beyond which one commits trespasses.
What are the essential qualities of a good leader?
First, a good leader needs to have vision. She must see farther and further than her followers, and be able to guide them to a clear and focused goal. She must have the ability to instill hope amongst her followers. She must have faith in her belief, and be able to withstand challenges and criticisms.
Second, a good leader needs to have integrity and abide by the eternal values. At times she may doubt what virtues are worth and how fast unscrupulous people climb up the echelon or build wealth. But she will be able to stay firm on principles and control her fear. A good leader must have patience and trust, and be able to influence her followers with optimism along the journey to the desired goal.
Third, a good leader must have empathy of other people’s feelings and situations. A good leader must get along with people. So, a good leader must be considerate with the needs of her followers. By creating an environment of mutual respect, a good leader will be able to build up team spirit amongst her co-workers and get her tasks done.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that no matter whether one was born with the charismatic qualities of a good leader, she can always learn to lead. So, to all you graduates, continue to prepare yourselves. Always look for ways to improve your communication skills so that you can articulate your ideas and thoughts well. Many of you have already got a good mastery of the English Language. Keep it up for we need leaders to be proficient in this world language to sustain our position as Asia’s world city. Be ready to take up responsibility and serve others. Remember that how you see things will very often determine the outcomes of your endeavors. So, develop the habits of positive thinking and learn through experience. Don’t let negative remarks sink into your minds when you face obstacles in your pathways. I have confidence in you and I wish you all become leaders in your chosen fields in the future.
I am sure all you graduates will look back on your school days with fond memories. But, I do not know whether you will soon forget the Heep Yunn motto “In strength and grace we stand united, in faith and love we committed”. If I pick one of you to this stage and ask you upfront, you may say you will never forget it. I don’t believe that every one of you mean it, for many of you will soon be busily coping with the vicissitude of life. No matter whether you may forget the words, the value carried therein, I am sure, have already crystallized in your character and will be your guardian angel for years to come.
I congratulate the graduates and the award winners today for their hard work and achievements.