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HO Chung Chung

Doctor of Letters
honoris causa

The lot of women in the history of both East and West has, I submit, Sir, not been altogether happy. In the West, while it is true that something has been achieved to unshackle women from the moral and emotional slavery to which society subjected them, how singular it still remains for a woman to excel in the conventional professions. In the East, despite signs of an increasing consciousness of deprivation, the conventions confining females are more pervasive, more binding. Such generalizations when we regard the achievements of Dr Ho Chung Chung, who stands before us now, may not seem germane. Yet she too has had to do battle to attain her eminence as an educationalist, in the process of freeing innumerable other of her race and sex from onerous thraldom. Her victories, though, come from diligence, perseverance, and, above all faith: not for her the strident or the violent.

Three influences have shaped the career of Dr Ho - her Chinese heritage in which she is so soundly steeped; her fervent Christianity; and her father, Dr. Ho Ko-tsun. The late Dr. Ho graduated along with his friend, Dr Sun Yat-sen, from the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese, that hotbed of anti-Manchu activity which was the predecessor of this University. Dr Ho laboured unceasingly for his fellow man, tending the sick for over forty years, at the Public Dispensary of Wanchai. His example of service and the moral precepts which he instilled into his children had a pronounced impact on his daughter, Ho Chung Chung, and early turned her thoughts towards education as a career. Such an ambition may be readily realized now but it was not then. For most, a woman's place remained in the home and so it was that after completing three years at Ying Wa Girls' School, Ho Chung Chung had to resign herself to a domestic existence, caring for her ailing grandmother, while, unassisted, continuing her study of the Chinese Classics. Only in 1928, after years of gentle persuasion, did Dr Ho Ko Tsun, albeit with grave misgivings, permit Ho Chung Chung to enrol as a pupil at the True Light Middle School in Canton. This institution was already well known to the emancipated throughout South China. Founded in 1872 by an American missionary to dispel the fearful ignorance in which the overwhelming majority of Chinese women lived out their lives, the School was even in the early twentieth century simultaneously providing education for mother and child. Small wonder that Dr Ho today feels privileged to have been allowed to attend True Light, from which she went on to Lingnan University where, in 1934, she obtained the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Education. That same year she returned to True Light to teach history, perhaps her favourite subject, subsequently being promoted Dean of the Secondary School. In 1936 and 1937, Ho Chung Chung, her feet now firmly planted on the educational ladder, spent a profitable and sometimes startling year at Columbia University from which she graduated with a Master's degree, again in education. However, returning from a United States, basking in peace if not prosperity, within one week she and True Light were assailed by the harsh realities of war when bombs rained down on Canton. The School was speedily evacuated to Hong Kong, in turn the victim of attack in 1941. It was not till five years later that the True Light Middle School of Hong Kong was re-established, with 411 pupils, with some twenty teachers, and with a grant of 1,000 Hong Kong dollars. Ho Chung Chung was its Principal. Under her sure guidance, from these fragile foundations the School has steadily expanded and it is today certainly one of the leading Middle Schools in Hong Kong. It is also unique. Its regimen is rigorous and vigorous but it is always tempered with humanity. Regimentation is scrupulously avoided and individual initiative encouraged. The traditional competitive spirit of the classroom is, most unusually, eschewed, with the more advanced girls both being given extra assign-ments, so challenging their capacities to the full, and being placed in classes of mixed ability, so that they may help those less able than themselves. A close relationship between staff and students is rapidly developed and all are expected to engage in a constant process of self-evaluation. Physical and mental health, the latter constituting a particular concern of Dr Ho Chung Chung, are stressed. Teachers are urged to acquire additional professional skills, the better to cope with their pupils' problems. Of course, the True Light Middle School of Hong Kong differs from its former foster-mother in Canton for Dr Ho at once appreciated that cosmopolitan Hong Kong presented altogether novel problems and opportunities. The importance of bilingual studies has been emphasised and, indeed, True Light was the first secondary school here to install a properly equipped Language Laboratory. Dr Ho may be "traditional" in some minor aspects of education but in most she has proved a pioneer. Her overriding objective throughout has been the inculcation of a set of values which will sustain her pupils in times of tribulation and which will serve to assist them to achieve self-fulfilment, wherever they may go, whatever career they rnay elect to pursue.

But it would be grossly mistaken to imagine that the School, from which she retired last year, exhausts Dr Ho's manifold services to education. She has worked hard and long for our sister University, has served on syndicates, boards, and committees, all of them concerned with learning, and has played an exceptionally lively role in the development of secondary education. Her contribution was recognized when she was awarded the Coronation Medal in 1953, and two years later, the MBE In 1959 she was granted an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters by the Western College for Women, Ohio.

Mr Chancellor, I request that you create Ho Chung Chung an honorary Doctor of Letters honoris causa of this University.

Citation written and delivered by Mr Hugh David Turner, BA, MLitt, the Public Orator of the University.

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