Speech by SLW at 50th Graduation Ceremony of Victoria Educational Organisation

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the 50th Graduation Ceremony of the Victoria Educational Organisation today (June 15):

Ms Christina Ting, Dr Maggie Koong, Mr William Doo, Mr and Mrs Lee, Principals, All teaching staff, students and parents, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to join the 50th Graduation Ceremony of the Victoria Educational Organisation and share the joy of all the graduating children and their parents.

I first came into contact with Victoria Kindergarten and its founder and supervisor, Ms Christina Ting, 34 years ago when I was appointed City District officer (Eastern) in 1981. I have since witnessed the remarkable and rapid growth of Victoria Kindergarten from a district-based independent kindergarten into a leading territory-wide organisation providing high-quality childhood education and comprising nine nurseries and kindergartens.

I had the pleasure of visiting Victoria Kindergarten and Primary School in my capacity as Director of Education in 2001, just after it celebrated its 35th anniversary. I came away much impressed by its commitment in striving to develop its students into caring life-long learners with a global vision and possessing biliterate and trilingual skills.

Victoria has gone from strength to strength over the years. Under the capable leadership of the Chief Principal, Dr Maggie Koong, the Victoria Education Organisation has blossomed and now runs the Victoria Shanghai Academy which provides a through-train primary and secondary school at its well-equipped campus in Aberdeen.

Children are the future of our society. Through promoting a culture of multi-faceted excellence and upward social mobility, the Hong Kong SAR Government aims at building an environment whereby young people, regardless of their interests, abilities and family background, can develop their potential to the full.

In the current financial year, spending on education alone accounts for a significant 22 per cent ($71.4 billion) of the Government's annual recurrent expenditure - the lion's share of all policy areas. Recurrent expenditure on welfare and labour will reach HK$59.7 billion, second only to education, and accounting for 18.4 per cent of the total. These figures speak volumes about the Government’s commitment in grooming our next generation and improving the well-being and livelihood of our people.

As I see it, a typically successful corporation in the next decade and beyond may well have part-time or volunteer silver-hair mentors coaching the creative and dynamic Generation Y, mothers happily working flexible hours from home, people with disabilities unleashing their full potential with the aid of technology, and a multicultural team of talents bringing together the best of different worlds to business development. At the helm of this win-win team will be a leader who truly understands and appreciates people's diversity, who is ever ready to embrace changes pragmatically, and who makes the best of humanity.

Clearly, Victoria Kindergarten has made sterling contribution to Hong Kong's childhood education and has firmly established itself as a key component of Hong Kong's education landscape. It has been instrumental in nurturing and preparing the ground for our next generation. Many of its graduates are occupying senior and important positions in business, commerce, government and the professions.

On its golden jubilee, I offer my warmest congratulations to the Victoria Educational Organisation and wish it continued success in the many years ahead. Happy 50th birthday Victoria!

Ends/Monday, June 15, 2015