The following is the speech by the Director of Education, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the 20th Anniversary of Tuen Mun Government Secondary School today (December 14):
Ms Mak, Mrs Lam, Honourable guests, teachers, parents and students of Tuen Mun Government Secondary School:
I have much pleasure to be here this afternoon to officiate at the 18th annual Speech Day of your school and to address you all on this memorable occasion of the 20th anniversary of the school.
Tuen Mun Government Secondary School was established in 1982. It has since maintained an outstanding operating standard with the aim of delivering all-round education. I would like to pay warm tribute to the Principal and teachers for their sterling efforts in making the school what is today. I am sure the school will go from strength to strength in the years ahead. My gratitude also goes to members of the School Management Committee and the parents for their valuable advice and support, without which the school would never have been such a success. Last but not least, let me extend my warmest congratulations to all graduates present here. You have completed a significant stage of your academic pursuit. However, let me remind you that you must develop the habit of life-long learning. In face of a knowledge-based society, globalising economy and fierce international competition, our students must be adequately equipped and suitably educated to meet the challenges of the new millennium.
On this note, I find the initials or acronym of your school (that is TMGSS) most meaningful and instructive. They tie in perfectly with the spirit and philosophy of Hong Kong's ongoing education reform. Let me share with you how I interpret this acronym. TMGSS stands for more than just Tuen Mun Government Secondary School, but also Teamwork, Motivation, Gratitude, Support and Success.
"Teamwork" means individuals working together to achieve more than they could alone. It builds upon the strengths of the individuals and creates confidence. Through mutual support, teamwork can help reduce stress and pressure. Beijing's winning the right to host the 2008 Olympics in September this year and the entry of China's National Soccer Team to the World Cup Final a month later are examples of successful teamwork. The Chinese Orchestra and the Symphonic Bands in your school which enable students to have cultural interaction in Beijing and Korea in the summer and with Norwegian musicians locally a few weeks ago are also examples of good teamwork. Collaborative lesson preparation and project learning, which can only be achieved through teamwork, are the key elements in the current curriculum reform. I expect teachers and students to have more cooperation through teamwork so that they can have more opportunities to discuss and share experience.
"Motivation" refers to all those things which propel people forward and make them feel good about doing so. One of the keys to managing skills and making the most of people is to look for ways to develop the will to work well. Effective learning takes place when students are motivated. The principles for motivating students include expressing what is expected of them, using a diversity of resources and teaching strategies, and choosing authentic learning materials relevant to their daily experiences and ability level. I am happy to know that your school has set up various goals to motivate students to achieve in different aspects, to provide favourable learning environment for students to be "biliterate and trilingual", to master skills in sports, music and art, and also to participate in a variety of service teams and extra-curricular activities in order to widen their experience. It is also encouraging to know that throughout the whole school year your school has organised more than 10 items under the leadership training programmes to motivate the students, exert their potential and build up their leadership within and outside your school.
"Gratitude" is to count our blessings and not to take things for granted. We need to develop the good practice of being appreciative and thankful. Many problems can be solved if we can have a positive attitude in life. In most cases, the problem we have is not really a problem; the real problem lies in our attitude in facing and tackling the problem. According to the survey by the American Psychiatric Association, people can be healthier, happier and more positive, if they note down five grateful incidents every week. Grateful attitude or culture can provide favourable learning environment for students to cultivate positive values and attitudes, such as perseverance, commitment to society and nation, respect for others, and sense of justice. In fact, values and attitudes are given high priority in the review of the curriculum reform. I am pleased to note that you have a close affiliation with an aided special school in Tuen Mun District - Hong Kong Christian Services Pui Oi School - and take it as your "Sister School" so that students and parents are free to offer services and regular visits there. Such service to the community can serve as a good example of the gratitude culture which provides students with good opportunities for whole-person development.
"Support" stands for "Support for the school". It is our paramount concern as education sits at the top of our social policy agenda. The Chief Executive, Mr TUNG Chee-hwa, stressed in his Policy Address in October this year that although Hong Kong was facing an economic downturn, the Government's determination to invest heavily in education and to upgrade our human capital was unshaken. The Government has earmarked more than $6 billion in the 2001 Policy Address to improve the quality of education and pave the way for life-long learning. We recognise the need to create space for teachers to enhance their capacity so as to raise the effectiveness of teaching and learning. From the current school year, the Capacity Enhancement Grant for secondary school will be increased by 50%, which means an extra $200 million a year to support schools for relieving teachers' workload. We also need parents' support for the school as parents constitute a source of invaluable support. Although the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) in your school has established good relationship and close connection with parents, I would like to see your parents play an even more active and participatory role in the school so that we can have a more congenial, supportive and motivated learning environment, conducive to quality education.
The final initial 'S' stands for "Success". It means "going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm". Our success is not built in one day. This 20th anniversary is a milestone in the development of the school. The success we share today in Tuen Mun Government Secondary School is the collective effort of students and parents, principals and teachers, past and present. Let us build on this solid foundation and press ahead with the education reform and curriculum development to fulfil the vision of empowering our students to attain all-round education and life-long learning. I would like to stress that central to the success of a "thinking" school is its ability to equip its students with the capacity for reading to learn. Through reading, we experience the essential elements of learning, i.e. to learn, unlearn and relearn. It is also a good way for building on our strengths and investing in our future. Reading helps develop thinking skills, enrich knowledge, enhance language proficiency and broaden life experience, which are essential criteria for success. I am sure that your school will continue to place more emphasis on providing students with proper guidance, opportunity and motivation for them to cultivate good reading habits.
Finally, I wish Tuen Mun Government Secondary School continuous success in the years ahead. I also wish you all every happiness.
End/Friday, December 14, 2001