SED's speech at 57th International Mathematical Olympiad opening ceremony (English only) (with photo)

     Following is the speech by the Secretary for Education, Mr Eddie Ng Hak-kim, at the 57th International Mathematical Olympiad opening ceremony held at Queen Elizabeth Stadium today (July 10):

Dear Professor Geoff Smith, Professor Shum Kar-ping, Professor Tony Chan, honourable guests, academic leaders, contestants, ladies and gentlemen,

     It is my great honour and pleasure to join you in this opening ceremony of the 57th International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). I am so happy to address young mathematics talents from different parts of the world, as well as a distinguished audience of academic leaders. Earlier on, we have seen a demonstration by great talents.  They showed us the two major languages of mankind, music and mathematics together.

     May I also welcome you all warmly, wholeheartedly, and congratulate contestants today on having passed stringent preliminary rounds of selection. Now that you have made it to this final stage, no doubt you will spare no effort to get the best results for yourself and your team. You would do so not only to compete with others, but to stretch your own capacity, capability and potential and give the best performance. For those who arrived yesterday, especially last night, you would notice Hong Kong welcomed you so much. We did not have these over 5 000 lightning strikes for a long time. This is another way to show you how much you are welcomed.

     Competition aside, you would also enjoy the fun in solving mathematics problems and appreciate the beauty of it because, as Albert Einstein put it, mathematics is the poetry of logical ideas. But what more does mathematics mean to us?

     As the Secretary for Education of the HKSAR Government, I see the importance of mathematics for the all-round growth of our future generations, for the development of our respective societies.

     Mathematics is an age-old discipline. It is critical to science and technology, crucial to financial literacy, and central to daily lives. It is more than just numbers and formulas. It embraces logic and reasoning to resolve complicated, interlocking issues. Many decisions made, in the public and private sectors alike, rely to some extent on the use of mathematics. That is why mathematics is an integral part of general education, and one of the big four academic disciplines namely science, technology, engineering and mathematics commonly known as STEM.

     I am sure the countries and regions represented here today attach as much importance to mathematics and related education as we do in Hong Kong. Mathematics knows no boundaries.

     Let us educators all work together to unlock our youngsters' mathematics potential. Show them, through mathematics, how to think critically and creatively; lead them, using mathematics as a key, into a world of possibilities and opportunities.

     For the most gifted students, the IMO is the highest platform. This is not the first time Hong Kong has the privilege to host the IMO. As mentioned earlier, the last time was in 1994, when we played host to 69 participating teams. Today, after 22 years, I am proud to say that the scale of the 57th IMO is unprecedented, with 110 countries and regions from around the world taking part. I thank you all once again for your engagement and support.

     I would also like to thank all members of the IMO Hong Kong Committee, in particular Professor Shum, and all those involved in the organisation and sponsorships of the 57th IMO.

     My thanks also go to the unfailing support of Professor Tony Chan and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in making the IMO a success. Young people, since you are here in Hong Kong and visiting HKUST, in case you would like to consider pursuing further studies, this is a very good option in front of you.

     May I wish the leaders and contestants the very best of luck in the competitions. Do not forget to enjoy the side programmes. Have a taste of the culinary and cultural part of Hong Kong as the Asia's world city. Be pampered by the hospitality of our local helpers who are all teacher and student volunteers. Perhaps more importantly, make friends with fellow contestants who come from very different corners of the world. With the common language of mathematics, who knows you would not start some lifelong friendship here.

     May I thank you again and I would like to see you again in the closing ceremony the coming Friday.

Ends/Sunday, July 10, 2016
Issued at HKT 19:03