Following is a speech by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mrs Fanny Law, at the Awards Ceremony of South Island School today (May 3):
Good afternoon, Mr Shroff, Ms Wisker, Mr Evans, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,
Maybe I should start with a declaration of interests. As the Secretary for Education and Manpower, I naturally maintain a keen professional interest in all schools in Hong Kong. But I must confess that, as the mother of two of your alumni, I have always had special affection for South Island School. Randolph and Boniface have many happy memories of their school days here. Knowing that I will be with you today, they have asked me to convey their warm wishes to you all. In particular, Boni has asked me to pass on his regards to his friends who are present today.
Under the headship of Chris Evans, South Island School has moved from strength to strength, and has acquired a well-deserved reputation for providing quality all round education. So, when Chris told me he would be leaving after eight good years at South Island School, I really did not need much persuasion to jump at his invitation to visit the School again on this happy occasion. Today, as we celebrate the many and varied achievements of the students, I should pay tribute to Chris and the teaching staff at South Island School for their hard work and the fine education that they provide. I can speak with conviction and personal experience that if you do well in South Island School, you will excel in other school systems. Randy and Boni have benefited tremendously from the education they received at both Quarry Bay School and South Island School, which not only expanded their minds but opened their hearts to a more fulfilling life.
Due to our historical and geographical background, Hong Kong has a unique cultural mix and cosmopolitan air. International schools have played an important role in preserving this uniqueness, as well as in enriching our social and cultural fabric. Education in an international school goes beyond the acquisition of facts and knowledge. Its greatest value lies in promoting friendship and understanding among students of different cultural backgrounds, and preparing them for competition in the globally connected world.
We now have 45 international schools in Hong Kong, providing education for more than 25,000 students of some 25 nationalities. With China's imminent accession to the World Trade Organisation, and as our own economy recovers, we envisage an expansion of the expatriate community and, with that, an increasing demand for international school places. At the same time, there is a growing desire among expatriate families for their children to learn the Chinese language and develop a better understanding of Chinese history and culture.
In the past, the Government provided land and an interest free loan for building international schools. With the exception of ESF schools, international schools do not receive any recurrent subvention. To meet the education needs of a growing expatriate community and to promote their integration into the local community, the Government will increase the provision of good quality, non-profit-making private independent schools, and encourage international school operators to run them. Non-profit making private independent schools are eligible for land grants at nominal premium and one-off construction grants from the Government. They may offer a local or non-local curriculum, such as the International Baccalaureate or other national curriculum, with the study of Chinese language, Chinese history and culture being part of the core curriculum.
International schools are an integral part of our education system, but for a long time, they have been leading parallel but separate existence from local schools. I am pleased to see the invisible boundary gradually breaking down in recent years with more partnership programmes being held between some international and local schools. There is definitely scope for closer, stronger links across the board, e.g. in terms of joint school activities, student exchanges, sharing of good practices, and collaborative learning among teachers.
If it is true that in the information age "nothing endures but change", then to maintain our competitive edge in the global economy, we need people who are nimble and creative; people who can embrace and pioneer change. It falls upon education to provide the environment that enables young people to develop the ability to question, to discover and to create. This requires a change of paradigm in the approach to teaching and learning from a largely teacher-centred, textbook-based and examination-driven system towards a more student-focused, skills-based and capacity building approach. I am sure international schools have much to share with local schools in this respect.
On this very happy occasion, let me congratulate all the prize winners. The awards are a recognition of your efforts and achievements, of which you can be justifiably proud. But remember that just as it takes more than eleven players on the pitch to win a football match, so your achievements could not really have been possible without the love and support of the people around you, including your teachers, your family, and your friends. Remember, too, that the education you received here at South Island School has given you a priceless start to life. I hope, you will cherish every day of your life at South Island School, and as you move on, you will look back on these days with joy, pride and gratitude.
Finally, let me share with you some insights about the value of time.
To realise the value of ONE YEAR.....
ask a student who failed a grade.
To realise the value of ONE MONTH.....
ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
To realise the value of ONE WEEK.....
ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realise the value of ONE HOUR.....
ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realise the value of ONE MINUTE.....
ask a person who missed the train.
To realise the value of ONE SECOND.....
ask a person who just avoided an accident.
To realise the value of ONE MILLISECOND.....
ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics.
May you all value and enjoy every millisecond of your life!
End/Thursday, May 3, 2001