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For our future

The quality of a society depends on the quality of its people, which in turn depends on the quality of education. Besides passing on academic knowledge, education should also emphasise the whole-person development of young people.

Last Sunday, I went to Hong Kong Disneyland to attend the award presentation ceremony of the "I Did It" Award Scheme, which aimed to commend primary pupils who had made outstanding improvement in the past school year. Speaking at the ceremony, I encouraged the award winners to learn to share and to be grateful, especially to their parents and teachers for their support and encouragement.

In the past few days, there have been stories in the media about the high achievers in this year's Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination. These outstanding students, as well as the young people I met on various occasions in these few days, are all role models with good conduct, excellent academic performance, clear goals and unstoppable perseverance.

Among them is Tsang Tsz-kwan, who is blind and hearing-impaired. With superb willpower, she has managed to complete her secondary education, getting 5** in three subjects in the HKDSE Examination. Showered with praise by the audience, she did not forget to thank her parents and teachers on a radio programme for so many years of teaching in words and deeds. This is an example of gratefulness.

A top scorer in this year's HKDSE Examination, Terry Tsz from Tin Shui Wai knows how to cheer up the local community. Exuding positive energy, he lifted the hearts of people by saying that there is warmth, not bleakness, in Tin Shui Wai. Another candidate who has impressed me greatly is Lam To-yau (transliteration) (林道憂). According to media reports, he overcame great difficulties and persevered with his studies despite longstanding family problems. In addition, he has expressed his wish to take care of his elder brother for the rest of his life. This is another example of gratefulness.

I am deeply touched by these students' gratitude to their families and teachers, their hopes for the future, their commitment to their dreams and their determination to overcome challenges. We must continue to do our best to provide a better environment for the whole-person development of our next generation.

Last week, I went to several other activities for young people apart from the award presentation ceremony of the "I Did It" Award Scheme mentioned above. I attended the opening ceremony of the Military Summer Camp for Hong Kong Youth, a tea gathering with young people representing Hong Kong at the WorldSkills Competition, and the flag presentation ceremony of the "10,000 Miles Friendship Trek" exchange programme. All these activities provide young people with experiences outside the classroom. Also, the fifth summer internship programme organised by the Hong Kong Coalition of Professional Services, which was launched last month, provides Secondary 5 students in Yuen Long District with internships in professional firms.

I always stress that we must make long-term planning for the future and discard short-sighted thinking. Our future lies in our young people. I hope that the whole community will continue to take action to support our younger generation.

July 18, 2013