Dr CHOI Yuk-lin, JP, Secretary for Education
Professor (Jianxiang) Jiang (蔣部長), Professor (Catherine) Snow, Professor (Hiro) Yoshikawa, Professor (Soyoun) Bae, Dr. (Betty Po King) Chan, Professor (Nirmala) Rao, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning. It gives me great pleasure to join you all at the Opening Ceremony of the 22nd Annual Conference of the Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association (PECERA). Let me first extend my warmest welcome to speakers and participants from the Mainland and overseas for gracing this event with their presence.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to the Hong Kong branch of PECERA for lining up the extensive network of this conference, which will serve as a platform for the dissemination, discussion and development of high-quality research, and for achieving professional collaboration and synergy among educators. The theme of the conference this year is “Transforming Early Childhood Education – From Policy to Practice”, with the highlights on the vision, dedication and achievement of our ongoing commitment to quality kindergarten education.
As the Chinese proverb goes, “If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.” Indeed, we all see the importance of education as a lifelong human developmental goal, as well as the significance of nurturing in early childhood. However, what kind of environment have we created for young sprouts, our children, to grow and flourish?
This brings us back to the objectives of the Hong Kong Government’s kindergarten education policy. On this auspicious occasion when we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, I would like to share with you some of the advancements we have made in kindergarten education, as well as what we aspire to achieve in the future.
Over the past years, the Education Bureau (EDB) has launched an array of initiatives for the promotion of quality kindergarten education. In particular, we have implemented the kindergarten education scheme since the 2017/18 school year, which in itself represented a great stride forward, building on the solid foundation of the Pre-primary Voucher Scheme.
Under the kindergarten education scheme, the government has substantially increased commitment in kindergarten education from about $4 billion to about $6.7 billion every year, representing a surge of more than 60%. Such tangible support encompasses, among others, extensive enhancement of school infrastructure, human and daily operation resources, as well as provision for quality learning and teaching. With these measures in place, not only is good quality and highly affordable kindergarten education guaranteed for our children, but we can also ensure that students are able to access different modes of services that best suit their specific needs. In other words, the increased financial commitment has provided the necessary fertiliser to enrich the soil for our young sprouts to grow healthily.
In regard to the objectives of fostering children’s comprehensive and balanced development for kindergarten education, with the focus and priority on the promotion of moral and national education, our Kindergarten Education Curriculum Guide has been revised in response to the developmental needs of children and contemporary educational trends. We have also refined our quality assurance framework to strengthen school governance and transparency of kindergartens, which will be put under enhanced government monitoring. It is our aim to achieve quality kindergarten education through self-evaluation, improvement and accountability. Thanks to the concerted effort of the kindergarten sector, it has proven to be successful and highly sustainable.
Standing on the above nutrient-rich ground, we must never forget about the gardeners, that is our teachers and parents, who plough and sow with their sweat and soul to prepare the path for our children’s development. For teachers, the EDB has put in place a series of enhancement measures, from teachers’ staffing and remuneration arrangement to teachers’ further professional development. For parents, we have stepped up parent education to deepen the understanding of parents’ supportive roles in children’s holistic development and facilitate the sharing of good family support practices conducive to the healthy growth of their children. A Curriculum Framework on Parent Education was also introduced as a reference for kindergartens, to help them leverage on the close home-school communication and cooperation, which are crucial for the positive development of children.
All in all, we are proud to say that we have provided a powerful impetus to the kindergarten sector to gather momentum for the effective and efficient implementation of our early childhood education policy. Looking ahead, we treasure the partnership with all the educational professionals, like what we have in the audience here or through the online platform. This is particularly significant amid the age of emerging technologies and the ever-changing global landscape. Our role in mapping the way forward requires not only flexibility and dexterity in adapting to the dynamic world, but also the perseverance to uphold the core values that define our dedication to developing future-ready education for all, and for the betterment of our society, our nation and the world.
I believe that the PECERA and its annual conference will shed light on how to take kindergarten education to new heights. I look forward to learning from all the distinguished speakers, who will sow new seeds in our nursery grounds by sharing with us selflessly their professional insights. Although we may not see the harvest immediately tomorrow, I am sure we will be cultivating for our entire lives for the well-being of our next generation.
With these remarks, I wish the conference another year of resounding success and all participants a most stimulating and fruitful experience. Thank you!