The following is the speech (English only) by the Director of Education, Mr Matthew Cheung kin-chung, at the annual Speech Day of Ying Wa Girls' School today (July 10):
Reverend Wu, Mrs Chau, teachers, students, parents and friends of Ying Wa Girls' School,
It gives me great pleasure to be here this afternoon to officiate at the annual Speech Day of your school and to share some of my thoughts on education with you on this happy occasion.
When Ying Wa came into being just over a century ago, it was no more than a small boarding school for girls. However, through the dedication and unfailing efforts of the London Missionary Society and, in later years, the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China, the school has bloomed from its humble beginnings into one of the best schools in Hong Kong. While we celebrate the achievements of Ying Wa today, let us not forget the perseverance, stamina and courage of the school founders in its early and difficult years.
Some people tend to measure the effectiveness of schools through the attainments of their students in public examinations and the social status that their graduates achieve in the years to follow. To me, the effectiveness of schools means far more than that.
First of all, an effective school should be student-centred. It should respect the needs and interests of its students, involve them in school affairs and create a support network for them. In this respect, Ying Wa is a shining example. Your Student Association, with a history of over half a century, has taken the lead in initiating a good range of extra-curricular activities and promoting a collaborative culture among fellow students. Its annual election has served to raise the civic awareness of lower form students and enable the senior form students to practise running a society. Through organizing large-scale activities and school functions, the Student Association provides you with ample opportunities for developing interpersonal and organizational skills, as well as leadership ability. This valuable training prepares you for heavier responsibilities as the young leaders of our community.
Secondly, an effective school should offer a broad and balanced curriculum catering for the diverse needs of its students and equipping them with the essential skills and attitude to meet the challenges of society. It is one of the goals of Ying Wa to place due emphasis on both the spiritual and intellectual developments of its students. Language proficiency also ranks highly. True to its name "Ying Wa", English and Chinese are given equal emphasis and are well integrated into the curriculum and school life, though English is adopted as the medium of instruction. Together with the provision of a good range of extra-curricular activities, the knowledge and skills acquired are further consolidated and the development in the personal, social and moral aspects enhanced.
Thirdly, an effective school should have a well-defined organization structure characterized by clear missions, goals and values conveyed effectively at the school management level and amongst its staff members. Committed to providing a holistic education in a pleasurable and supportive environment for the students, your devoted School Management Committee, your dedicated Principal, Mrs Chau, and your enthusiastic teachers have all joined hands in nurturing and maintaining, over the years, a warm, harmonious, and caring atmosphere in Ying Wa. The outstanding leadership, coupled with the contingent of highly professional and devoted teaching staff, have propelled the school towards becoming an effective and collaborative learning and teaching organization.
Finally, an effective school must involve parents and the community. The school should have good communication with parents and community members and involve them fully in school activities. The importance of home-school cooperation in the all-round development and character formation of a student cannot be over-emphasized. Parent education figures prominently on my agenda. I am chairing a Steering Committee tasked to promote the involvement of parents in educational affairs. In this respect, Ying Wa has long regarded parents as important partners and established its Parent Teacher Association in the 1994/95 school year. The PTA has since played an active role in facilitating experience sharing among parents and with the school.
I think no one will contradict me if I say that Ying Wa fully fits the bill of an effective school. Your success is attributable to the concerted efforts of the School Management Committee, the Principal, the teaching staff, students and parents. I should like to pay particular tribute to the Principal, Mrs Chau, who will be retiring next month after 29 years of distinguished service in Ying Wa. The outstanding achievements of Ying Wa girls over the years owe much to her unfailing dedication. Her dynamic leadership, visionary steer and professionalism have moulded Ying Wa into what is it today. I am sure you all would like to join me to thank Mrs Chau for all that she has done. We wish you, Mrs Chau, a very well-deserved and happy retirement.
My warm congratulations also go to all graduates present here. Whilst you have completed a significant stage of your academic pursuit, let me remind you of the importance of developing the habit of life-long learning. In a knowledge-based society and globalising economy, you should not confine your learning to mere academic or school subjects. It is of paramount importance that you develop the ability to pursue new forms of knowledge and skills. You should be ready not only to make use of what you have learnt, but also to explore and create new knowledge in order to keep abreast of the fast changing world.
On this note, I wish you all every happiness and success in the years ahead. Thank you.
End/Tuesday, July 10, 2001