8 July 2011 (Friday)
The Opening Ceremony of 63rd OMEP World Conference, 2011
Speech by Mr. Michael M Y Suen, GBS, JP
Secretary for Education
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to meet with experts and professionals on early childhood from different parts of the world at the opening ceremony of the 63rd OMEP International Conference this morning. May I first extend my warmest welcome to you all, and for those coming from abroad, hope you will enjoy your stay in Hong Kong, and please do try to spare some time in your hectic schedule to visit places of interest to you.
The theme of the OMEP World Conference this year, “Meeting the Learning and Developmental Needs of Our Young Citizens”, timely highlights the importance of early childhood education as an integral part in ensuring the well-being of our young citizens.
Early childhood education is essential for intelligence, emotional and moral developments for children. In Hong Kong, the government places great emphasis on the provision of trained staff, diversity of services in order to meet the needs of parents and children, and quality education provided by kindergartens.
Like other countries, we are committed to improving quality early childhood education in Hong Kong by providing a conducive environment for the development of a diversified and vibrant kindergarten system, and we have also taken steps to strengthen professional capacity in meeting the learning and development needs of children.
Since 2007, the government has been implementing the Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme to provide fee subsidy directly to parents which facilitates parents’ choice for kindergartens. Besides subsidy to parents, the Voucher Scheme also provides financial support to teachers for upgrading their professional capacity.
To this end, the Education Commission has just completed a review of the Voucher Scheme and confirmed that the Scheme has provided effective incentive for professional upgrading and contributed to the provision of quality and affordable pre-primary education in Hong Kong. We will strive to improve the system with a view to enhancing the provision of quality early childhood education. We will further promote parental partnership and parents’ involvement in early childhood education for their children, and building on what we have achieved through the voucher scheme.
We strongly believe in collaboration and sharing which will enable us to learn from one another in the pursuit of excellence. I notice that the Conference also covers different aspects like curricula and pedagogies, teacher professionalism, parent education and policies for pre-primary education. I am sure all participants of this conference will benefit from the discussions and in turn help scale new heights in enhancing the quality of pre-primary education which is core and essential to the self-development of young children all over the world
Last but not least, may I take this opportunity to thank OMEP-Hong Kong for its untiring endeavor in organizing this World Conference.
Wish you all every success. Thank you.