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Speech at the 2015 World Book Day Fest – Towards a Reading City

2015 World Book Day Fest – Towards a Reading City

25 April 2015

Opening Address by Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, SBS, JP

Secretary for Education

 

Good morning, Professor CHENG, Members of the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research, Distinguished Guests, Principals, Teachers and Students.

 

 

          I am delighted to be here today to join you all in “The 2015 World Book Day Fest - Towards a Reading City”, a landmark event jointly organised by the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) and the Education Bureau (EDB).  As head of the EDB, may I first extend my warmest welcome to you all.

 

          "Reading to Learn" has been in the forefront of the curriculum reform since 2000.  Through various modes of support, students have been encouraged to read across the curriculum to enhance their interest in reading, as well as their biliterate and trilingual abilities. 

 

          The 2015 World Book Day Fest aims at celebrating the achievements of schools in promoting reading.  With our schools’ joint efforts, Hong Kong is truly becoming a Reading City, a fact very appropriately captured in the theme we have chosen for this year’s event, which is “Towards a Reading City”.  In our Reading City, we see students taking pleasure in reading.  We see them reaching out for and embracing the infinite horizon brought by reading.  We see them engage in a life-long pursuit of knowledge that is interlocked with their reading journey.  We see them inspired and becoming knowledgeable, and we see them write and speak with substance, insight and creativity.   

 

          Today’s event affirms the importance of educators and parents in promoting reading.  Our gratitude also goes to the whole education sector and various community partners for their concerted effort and support in contributing to nurturing a fine reading culture in this city.

 

          I am proud to share with you our students’ achievements in international reading assessments in recent years.  In the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2011, our Primary 4 students ranked first among all participating regions or countries while in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), our 15-year-old students progressed from the fourth place in 2009 to the second in 2012. 

 

          These international studies have also pointed out that students’ reading performance is greatly influenced by the following key factors, which are students’ interest and motivation to read, schools’ initiatives in promoting reading, as well as the involvement of parents in supporting reading.  It is clear therefore that schools and parents have to join hands to promote reading across different disciplines as a priority, engage students in extensive reading and help them become self-directed readers.  We can also take a step further to create synergies among schools, parents and community partners through utilising a wider range of printed and multimedia resources across the city to foster literacy in school and at home.

 

          Today, it is our great pleasure to have Professor Piet Van de CRAEN, The Vrjie Universiteit Brussel, Secretary of the European Language Council and Vice-president of the Belgian Association for Applied Linguistics, to share with us his insights into quality language learning and teaching.  I am sure his sharing will enlighten us as to how we can further enhance our students’ language proficiency.

 

          American author, Stephen King, says, “Books are a uniquely portable magic”.  I am sure there are always books to match our very unique interests and personalities, may they be e-books or printed copies.  Let us always carry with us this portable magic, magic that is already happening around here, in our World Book Day Fest.  In closing, may I wish you all and your students a magical reading journey today.  I also hope that this magic will always be with our students and give power to their learning, thus turning their life-long learning journey into one exciting adventure.  Thank you.