The following is the speech by the Director of Education, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the Conference on New Directors in Environmental Education for Hong Kong today (November 3):
Professor Hills, Mr Tong, Dr Man,
Distinguished Guests, Principals and Teachers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am much honoured to be here today to participate in this conference. It gives me great pleasure to meet so many people who are dedicated to promoting environmental education.
On behalf of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, let me extend my warmest welcome to all the visitors from afar, especially Professor Filho, Professor Fien, Professor Somwung, Professor Cogan and Ms Owens. I would also like to thank the Centre of Urban Planning and Environmental Management, the University of Hong Kong and Green Power for organising this conference. It provides a timely opportunity and a very good platform for all of us concerned -- academics, environmentalists, professionals and policy-makers -- both local and international, to exchange views and discuss the future direction of environmental education.
Environmental education has long been a matter of common concern in Hong Kong and the world at large. It is perceived as one of the most fundamental and important strategies to combat environmental problems. As in other places, environmental education is receiving greater attention than ever before within Hong Kong schools. The Education Department, together with other key stakeholders including the Environmental Campaign Committee, the Environmental Protection Department, the Hong Kong Institute of Education, the Hong Kong Productivity Council and other non-government organisations, have started the "Green School Movement". Our vision is to help all schools in Hong Kong to develop the green school culture. Our education system plays a key role in shaping the beliefs and attitudes of the citizens of tomorrow. Students will be nurtured to become environmental citizens who will contribute to sustainable development both locally and globally.
To realise this vision, we have formulated a strategic plan embedding various measures including issuing guidelines, incorporating appropriate learning elements in the school curriculum, conducting school visits, preparing resources, organising teacher training programmes and annual environmental education schemes such as the Hong Kong Green School Award Scheme. All these measures have a positive impact on schools in promoting environmental education.
As advocated in the current curriculum reform, we encourage schools to build on their existing strengths to adopt the life-event approach when designing the environmental education curriculum. This approach focuses on establishing meaningful connection between students' daily life experiences and whole-person development. With its learner-focused orientation, provision of authentic learning contexts relating to students' family lives, school lives and social lives offers a fertile ground for the development of environmental education skills, values and attitudes.
We all know that there is no short cut and that it is no easy task to help our students become environmental citizens. I am happy to see that we are not alone in pursuing this most worthy cause. The presence of so many devoted principals, teachers and environmental education experts, both local and international, in this conference testifies to our common objective. Let us hope that we will make good use of this conference to enhance our capacity, pool our collective wisdom, give us new insight and strengthen our resolve in achieving our vision.
End/Saturday, November 3, 2001