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Speech by SLW at international conference on youth development in the global context (English only)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the international conference on "Youth Development in the Global Context: Emergent Issues and Responses" organised by P.A.T.H.S. to Adulthood: A Jockey Club Youth Enhancement Scheme, today (May 3):

Professor Timothy Tong (President, Hong Kong Polytechnic University), Dr Eric K C Li (Steward, Hong Kong Jockey Club), Professor Richard Catalano (Director, Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington), Professor Daniel Shek (Chair Professor, Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to open this prestigious International Conference on "Youth Development in Global Context: Emergent Issues and Responses" this morning. Let me extend a very warm welcome to all visiting scholars and professionals from different parts of the world.
     The late US President Franklin D Roosevelt once said, "We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future." To build our youth for the future, experts and practitioners in every country or region have accorded high priority to providing an environment conducive to the healthy development of young people in an increasingly complex and fast-moving world. In Hong Kong, the government also places great emphasis on a wide range of preventive, supportive and remedial services to meet the changing needs of our younger generation.

     I applaud the generosity and efforts of the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust in complementing the Government's effort in building our youth for the future. The Trust has granted HK$750 million to implement the Project "P.A.T.H.S. to Adulthood: A Jockey Club Youth Enhancement Scheme" since the 2005/06 school year. Seven years on, P.A.T.H.S., which denotes "Positive Adolescent Training through Holistic Social Programmes", has blazed a trail in whole-person education and development for youths on three fronts.

     First, it is an impressive and commendable initiative in cross-sectoral, multi-disciplinary collaboration.

     A Research Team comprising top notch academics from five universities in Hong Kong co-organised the project in concert with the Social Welfare Department and Education Bureau. Over the past seven years, P.A.T.H.S. has benefitted over 212 000 students from more than 280 secondary schools in Hong Kong. Some 180 training units have been developed to foster students' positive identity, cultivate self-efficacy and resilience, and promote their competencies as well as a positive attitude towards others and the community. A total of 7 230 teachers and social workers have been trained so far to implement the project. As the trainers of the project, teachers and social workers have worked closely and collaborated well to produce the evidence-based positive effects on our young people.

     Second, it is evidence-based. For a person-oriented programme to make an impact, we need to have real evidence to evaluate and advise on its development and implementation. And good evidence requires good people. Thanks to the dedicated Research Team, not only does P.A.T.H.S. build invaluable evidence on adolescent development issues, it has also opened a new page of study in the field of whole-person education and development.

     Last but not least, it is evolving for the better. The Trust, Professor Daniel Shek of the Research Team and the Social Welfare Department are jointly deliberating the way forward of this programme upon its completion this summer. An enhancement programme is being considered to promote the holistic development of junior secondary students from schools which have not participated in P.A.T.H.S. previously, plus those with greater psychosocial needs.

     In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to pay warm tribute to Professor Shek and the Research Team for their untiring efforts in organising this important and meaningful conference. I wish the event every success and all overseas delegates a pleasant and memorable stay in Hong Kong. Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, May 3, 2012
Issued at HKT 10:45


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