14 July 2018 (Saturday)
HKAGE’s 10th Anniversary Gifted Education Symposium
Speech by Mr Kevin YEUNG Yun-hung, JP
Secretary for Education
Anticipated No. of Audience: about 200
Professor Ng, Professor Century, Professor Sherson, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to officiate at this 10th Anniversary Gifted Education Symposium of the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education, with the theme of “Trends in 21st Century Education”.
Today, we have renowned scholars and educators to speak on topics abreast of the worldwide trends in gifted education. Truly, this occasion has marked the beginning of the event series, collectively titled “Going beyond Giftedness”, for celebrating the 10th birthday of the Academy. With concerted efforts, the Academy has been working hand in hand with the Education Bureau over the years in leading our young talents into an era of knowledge, science and globalisation.
Looking back, the Academy has manifested a story of the Government’s commitment and the joint support of the community. Thanks to a start-up funding comprising a donation of $100 million from Sir Joseph Hotung and a one-off grant of $100 million from the Government, the Academy ran into operation in 2008 to provide gifted students with a good variety of learning experiences beyond schools.
Since then, we all witnessed the steady growth of the Academy with its membership from around 1,000 secondary school students at the start to well over 10,000 nowadays, covering both primary and secondary school students. The scope of services provided by the Academy has also expanded tremendously to address the diverse needs of our students over the years. Today, the off-school provision not only includes academic programmes, but also affective education, advanced learning experiences and student-led conferences.
The Government has always attached great importance to gifted education. With the vision of “Gifted Education for all, Education for the Gifted”, the Three-tier Implementation Model of Gifted Education has been promulgated since 2000 for the systematic development of gifted education in Hong Kong. All students have the opportunity to unleash their potential through the school-based whole-class learning at Level 1. The students with outstanding potential have the access to the school-based pull-out enrichment and extension programmes at Level 2, and indispensably, to off-school intensive support services at Level 3.
In order to enhance the stepping up of gifted education provision, the Education Bureau set up the Gifted Education Fund in 2016 to generate investment income for supporting the operation of the Academy. Since September 2017, the Academy has become a government subvented organisation, working more closely with the Government to provide Level 3 off-school gifted education prorgammes for exceptionally gifted students.
Over the years, it is very encouraging to see gifted students excel with awards gained in various local and international competitions, including the International Physics Olympiad, the International Junior Science Olympiad, the International Mathematical Olympiad and so on. The students’ achievements are definitely brought about by their perseverance, the support of their schools and parents, and essentially, the off-school training opportunities. In collaboration with different post-secondary institutions and educational bodies, the Academy has been offering tailored training to gifted students to enable them to become well-empowered intellectually and affectively before they embrace challenges with gifted peers around the world. Seeing our gifted students grow with outstanding achievements in various competitions with competence and assurance, I believe, would be the most rewarding experience for their teachers and parents as supporters in their learning journeys.
This symposium provides a good platform for experts from overseas to exchange experiences and ideas with local practitioners, to shed light on the future development strategies of gifted education, especially in the STEM-related disciplines. As our students march into the era of information and science, education is never just about transfer of knowledge in a discipline. Today’s education is more on the organic transformation of knowledge across disciplines in life. According to the U. S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while other occupations are growing at 9.8%. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological world, our students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.
This symposium also serves as kick-starter for international conferences, research and exchanges on gifted education to be initiated by the Academy, with the ultimate goal of developing Hong Kong into a regional gifted education hub. As John Dewey said, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” Soon in the keynote addresses and the panel discussion, we will have the opportunity to inspire one another for best practices of fostering our gifted students to thrive on problem solving, creativity and innovation. This goal will benefit our gifted students, and additionally, it will enhance the capacity of Hong Kong to attract talents from overseas and retain our own talents for building a better Hong Kong. I am sure that the speakers will bring to us thought-provoking insights, leading us to more education innovations. We are looking forward to the fruitful exchanges soon.
“Dedication doesn’t have an off-season.” Our dedication has brought us here together. I wish you all a very rewarding symposium. Thank you very much.