12 December 2008 (Friday)
Thirtieth Anniversary Speech Day of
Hong Kong Chinese Women’s Club College
Speech by Mr Michael M Y Suen, GBS, JP
Secretary for Education
Mrs Lau (School Supervisor), Mr Wong (School Principal), Distinguished Guests, Parents, Teachers and Students,
It is a great pleasure for me to join you on your Speech Day as you are celebrating your 30th Anniversary.
I would like to salute the Graduates of 2008 and to offer my heart-felt congratulations. I hardly need to remind the graduates that the education you have received here has laid a very good foundation for you in your learning pathways. This is also the starting point for you to pursue lifelong learning. So, sustain the momentum.
Looking at your young faces, I cannot help but think of my own graduation more than forty years ago. I still remember the day when I was where you are now. Life was much simpler then. A university degree more or less guaranteed a fine and lasting career. The world today is certainly much more complicated and moves at a faster pace. However, there is no need to be too concerned about such challenges in life for you are well prepared by your school, the Hong Kong Chinese Women’s Club College, to conquer and overcome them.
I joined an international Conference on Education held in Melbourne last week. The Conference had given me a valuable opportunity to share the experiences and challenges of education reform with the education leaders and academics in other leading jurisdictions. Like Hong Kong, all these advanced jurisdictions are focusing on promoting whole-person development and life-long learning capabilities of students. There is a consensus that “learning to learn” is a goal of education which we should all realise.
In this current day and age there is no crystal ball which can give you any hint for sure whether the common place jobs available nowadays would remain in the market in 10 or 20 years’ time. They may well be replaced by some new careers. To illustrate my point – just cast your mind back to 10 years ago, you would take photographs with cameras on film. Now, ten years on, films are all but replaced by microchips. Companies like Kodak and Fuji either go out of business or have to adapt to the new way and face reality. The message for you is that it underlines the whole rationale of why we consider it important to equip you with the necessary capabilities and attitudes for learning how to learn and for lifelong learning.
We want to make sure that you can not only adapt to but thrive in ever changing circumstances you will face in your working life. In order to accomplish the above objective, we move onto a new 334 academic structure with emphasis on helping students in Hong Kong to master the basic generic skills, like language capability, the ability to search for relevant information, the ability to organize and to draw conclusions, and to articulate ideas and influence others’ way of thinking.
To thrive in this world of ever-increasing change, you also have to keep up with the latest information and technology and to keep your intellectual curiosity alive. You should not allow yourself to lose your appetite for knowledge.
The pursuit of knowledge requires continuous efforts. The accumulation of knowledge is the result of hard work and perseverance.
Let me tell you something about Thomas Edison, the one who invented the first light bulb. As the story goes, after Thomas Edison’s seven-hundredth unsuccessful attempt to make his invention work, he was asked by a reporter, “How does it feel to have failed seven hundred times?” The great inventor responded, “I have not failed seven hundred times. I have not failed even once. I have successfully proved seven hundred ways that would not work. When I have eliminated the ways that would not work, I will find the way that will work.” Eventually, after many more failed attempts, Edison finally came up with the one that worked. His invention lights up our classrooms, offices and homes today.
The great inventor’s dogged refusal to surrender to “failure” reflects his perseverance. I want you to follow his example of not succumbing to setbacks and obstacles in life. Do not allow yourself to feel let down or to lose your determination or to let anything stifle your dreams.
Under the motto of “Knowledge and Perseverance”, the Hong Kong Chinese Women’s Club College has furnished all students with more than knowledge within classrooms. The college has also given you all sorts of learning opportunities beyond the classrooms to build your personal skills. You have joined student exchange programmes, school band’s annual performance, and various competitions in inter-school festivals, to name a few. These learning experiences have not only broadened your horizon, but also enhanced your ability to cope with the changes and challenges ahead of you.
On your behalf, I would like to convey a sense of deep appreciation to the School principal and council members for their dedication and devotion in making this School a success. Recognition must also go to the teachers who have done a fabulous job.
Last but not the least, warm gratitude to all parents for their countless love, their care, their patience, their guidance and their encouragement.
Finally, warm congratulations again to all Graduates and Award Winners today.
I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you all an early Merry Christmas! Thank you.