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SCA's speech at SPSS annual speech day

The following is the speech by the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Michael Suen at the St Paul's Secondary School Annual Speech Day 2000 this (December 7) evening (English only):

Rev. Mother Marie Pauline Wong, Rev. Sr. Margaret Wong, Mrs. Diana Wong, distinguished guests, teachers, parents and students,

First of all, let me say how honoured my wife and I feel, to be invited to join with you, Paulinians, past and present, on the occasion of your Annual Speech Day when you are celebrating your 40th Anniversary.

To most of you here, especially graduates and prize-winners, 40 years is indeed a long time. If you asked me whether it was a long time, I would probably say no. If you would allow me to indulge in a bit of reminiscence - 40 years ago today, St Paul's Secondary School had just been opened and I was about your age, preparing for my School Certificate Examination. I was not taught about the sort of subjects that are now common place. Computer literacy was unheard of. And there were no Computer Studies. If one read about IT in education, one wondered why "i", "t" are put in capital letters and one would not comprehend what "it" in education meant. There was simply not a hint of the advent of the computer age.

You, Paulinians are brought up in another age.

St. Paul's Secondary School has developed a distinguished tradition of keeping its leading role in curriculum renewal to meet the changing needs of the times. It was one of the first girls' schools in Hong Kong to offer science subjects in the 60s, Computer Studies in the 70s, Computer Literacy in the 80s and IT in Education in the late 90s. It was selected as one of the 10 pilot secondary schools in the IT in Education Pilot Scheme in 1998. To date, it has developed itself into a fully integrated educational institute with Arts, Sciences, Commercial and Social Sciences at all levels.

The starting point for the development of a vibrant and knowledge-based community is good education, and the starting point of the delivery of good education is high performing schools. No person is more influential than a principal or a teacher in shaping the minds, values and outlook of the youngsters - the future pillars of our society. On this happy occasion, I would like to congratulate you all for having the chance to study in one of the best schools in Hong Kong. Over the years, teachers of St. Paul's Secondary School have taken it upon themselves to help and to facilitate the realization of their students potential to its full. They have also put great emphasis on Moral Education and Civil Education to promote the importance of moral integrity and inculcate a vision towards social responsibility in order to help their students attain the development of the whole person. Apart from classroom teaching, a rich variety of extracurricular activities, such as religious gatherings and participation in social services, are organized to nurture your spiritual life and arouse your social awareness and civic consciousness. With the care and dedication of the teachers, all Paulinians are being groomed as healthy individuals with vision, alertness and independent thinking. In fact, the achievement of the School is well demonstrated by the discipline and spirit that all of you have shown here today. All these are important attributes for success in life, irrespective of the different career paths which you may choose to follow. Someone who is caring, compassionate, righteous and just will stand out from amongst peers.

A while ago, I alluded to the fact that I was simply and totally unprepared for the use of computers in my school days. In due course, you will find yourselves in similar situations because we are living in a fast changing environment where technological development in every field transforms the world every so often. If you want a word of friendly advice I will give it to you. And don't forget it. It is "Lifetime learning". It is the only way to keep abreast with the times.

What you find the best that you get out of your formal education is your appetite for more knowledge, your ability to assimilate new ideas and your quest for excellence. These are the important ingredients to successful lifetime learning and they are all within your grasp. All you need to do it is put them to practice and the more you do it the better you are at it.

You have excellent facilities in this school. This very hall will be turned into a polling station for the Legislative Council By-Election which will be held this coming Sunday. It will be remiss of me not to say something about that. I know most of you here this evening are not yet 18 and so are not even registered voters. But for those teachers and parents who are registered as voters on Hong Kong Island, I would urge them to exercise their right to choose their own representative in the Legislative Council on Sunday. We are eager and anxious to see more and more people participating in the electoral process. I am sure that everyone here wants the successful implementation of the One-Country-Two-Systems concept in Hong Kong and the realisation of the twin concept of Hong Kong people ruling Hong Kong. Such success depends, to a large extent, on your active support and participation. We need to set good examples to show all our future pillars of society, including those in this hall, that our voices count. They will soon get their chance to get registered as voters. And there will be many more elections to come for them to give their mandate to candidates of their choice to be legislators. Participating in the electoral process is just another manisfectation of lifetime learning, as the more you get involved in it, the more you appreciate the meaning of and the spirit behind democratic values. You will get a say in determining how our electoral system will continue to evolve, as provided for in the Basic Law.

Last but not least, I wish all the students here a bright future. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Supervisor, Principal and all the teachers of St Paul's Secondary School for their devotion to their task of preparing leaders for our society. I am very confident of their success in the years to come.

Thank you very much.

End/Thursday, December 7, 2000