Speech by CS at Singapore-Hong Kong Exchange Programme 2015 Farewell Ceremony (English only) (with photos)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the Singapore-Hong Kong Exchange Programme 2015 Farewell Ceremony at Juying Secondary School in Singapore this evening (July 23):

Mr Wong (Siew Hoong) (Director-General of Education, Singapore), distinguished guests, principals, teachers, students, ladies and gentlemen,

     Good evening. It gives me great pleasure to join you all this evening at the Farewell Ceremony of the 14th Singapore-Hong Kong Exchange Programme.

     First of all, on behalf of the Hong Kong SAR Government, and particularly our Education Bureau, I must thank Mr Wong and his colleagues at the Ministry of Education of Singapore for their unfailing support for the Exchange Programme since its inception in the year 2000. My sincere appreciation also goes to Mr Ow Kwok Leung from Singapore, Mr Eric Chan from Hong Kong, and other members of the organising committee for devoting their time and efforts to putting together two weeks of exciting and enriching activities for the teachers and students from Hong Kong.

     Singapore and Hong Kong have a lot in common. We have similar geological, economic and cultural endowment. We adopt the same common law system and use the English language widely at work and in schools. Both of our cities are regional hubs for transport by air and sea, as well as being important financial centres. We both have little natural resources and people are our most valuable asset. We therefore regard education as the key to success and commit resources in nurturing our new generation. Education is the biggest spender amongst all policy areas in the HKSAR Government's budget, accounting for 22 per cent of our recurrent expenditure.

     In Hong Kong, our education policy aims to promote students' whole-person development and life-long learning capabilities. Education helps to unleash people's potentials and should enhance their virtues as well as competitiveness. Singapore has a similar holistic approach. Its education system nurtures not only confident people who can think independently and critically, be self-directed and strive for excellence, but also concerned citizens who take an active part in bettering their life and the life of those around them.

     Against this backdrop, we launched in 2000 this programme to foster mutual understanding and promote educational and cultural exchange between Hong Kong and Singapore. So far more than 1 600 students from the two places have benefited. It provides an early opportunity for students to experience different cultures and broaden their horizons.  For the participating teachers, it is also a good platform to exchange views with fellow educators, share experiences and foster partnership.

     For the 14th edition of the Exchange Programme this year, we have adopted the theme of "Two Cities, One Experience". 120 students from our two cities are brought together as one learning community to create a common experience.

     In this globalised era, people who are able to adjust to different environment, embrace changes and celebrate diversity are more capable of rising to the challenges ahead. As the Chinese saying goes, "You can learn more by travelling a thousand miles than by reading a thousand books." The Exchange Programme allows students to travel and meet people from different cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds, and develop a greater understanding of diversity in the process. They will also learn to cultivate positive relationships with others, appreciate a broader range of perspectives, and acquire the knowledge and skills for participating in our multicultural societies. And by applying what they have learnt, they can not only shape a better future for their own, but for the community, the country, and the world for all.

     "Young people can broaden their horizons through two-way visits, life experience activities, cultural and service collaboration as well as job-seeking experience sharing." This is a quote I take from our Chief Executive's 2015 Policy Address. This year's Hong Kong participants of the Exchange Programme can all tell you how true it is.  This trip to Singapore has given them an invaluable learning experience, which I trust will be treasured by all of them. It is for the same reason that the HKSAR Government has in recent years created more opportunities for youth exchange and internship, both internationally and in the Mainland of China.

     While it will not be easy for our students to say goodbye to their host families and the new friends they have made over the past two weeks, we all know their friendships will continue, bringing Singapore and Hong Kong closer yet again.

     Thank you once again to the Ministry of Education of Singapore and to the principals and teachers of each of the six host schools for giving our teachers and students a very memorable experience in Singapore. I wish you an equally fruitful and enjoyable visit to Hong Kong in November.

Ends/Thursday, July 23, 2015
Issued at HKT 20:15