Mr. Chancellor, Mr. Pro-Chancellor, Mr. Vice-Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen:
It is great privilege for me to be asked to address this Congregation. My first duty is, of course, to render the warmest thanks to the University on behalf of all the honorary graduates, Mrs. Elizabeth Frankland Moore, Mr. Pao Yue Kong, The Hon. Szeto Wai, and myself, for all the honours just conferred upon us. All of my fellow graduates have made distinguished contributions in their own fields, and rendered outstanding services to the community, and therefore merit recognition. I alone should not have deserved consideration for this honour; it is one which all my seniors and colleagues in the field of education should share with me, for whatever little I have been able to achieve over the years has been achieved only with their guidance and unstinting support.
My father was a graduate of the Hong Kong College of Medicine and this makes me doubly glad that I too have become a member of its eminent successor today.
The aims of a university are to foster culture, to develop the talents of the young, to impart them expertise and skills and to prepare them for leadership in various spheres of activities in society. During the sixty-four years of its existence, this University has achieved these aims: its graduates have made substantial contributions to the life of the local community - cultural, economic and educational. They hold many of the most responsible posts in a wide range of departments of government and of other leading organizations of Hong Kong. And they are vital to its future.
In this age of knowledge explosion and of accelerated technological advancement - ironic, it may seem - man watches his moral and social well-being inversely retrogressing. Corruption, drug abuse, robbery and violence become regular features of daily life. People who have not yet become injured to this situation are conscious of the urgent need for a change, and of course they turn for direction to their leaders, who have enjoyed the benefit of a higher education.
However, in recent times education has laid overmuch emphasis on specialization and on technologies, to the extant that the search for the values of human life and the cultivation of good character, which require eternal vigilance, are slowly but surely being abandoned. If they do not possess a solid base in moral education from the primary and secondary schools, students who enter the University are likely to be solely occupied in mastering knowledge and skills in the hope of securing well-paid jobs and the material comforts which they bring. Many of them are unlikely to be able to understand the most pressing of the really serious social issues, and the concept of service becomes even more remote from those in this position. It is not, of course, a phenomenon unique to Hong Kong: it is a world trend.
There is now, in recent years, emerging a reaction among groups of concerned youths in some of the industrialized countries, where they have started to question, and even reject, a materialist, profit-conscious culture. It is beginning to be reported that the more popular of the elective courses in the universities of these countries are those concerned with the philosophical and moral issues; and this is an indication that more and more of the younger generation will be earnest in the search for a true meaning of life in this chaotic world.
Since Watergate, American educators have become more vocal about the role of moral education. Some basic questions are being raised: "To what extent are the primary and secondary schools and individual teachers responsible for inculcating moral behaviour in children?" "What is a value?" "What is a moral value?" "How can the schools help the young make a choice of action or reaction when they encounter a moral problem?" The desire to find answers to these questions is growing in the United States, a country which has prided itself on its scientific and technological excellence, and which has long buried "moral education" as being "backward" or "metaphysically irrelevant". Now faced with the crisis of moral bankruptcy, educationalists are busy exhuming these concepts, such as Professor Lipman who started the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children, with the object of studying the deep need of the young to arm themselves with the solution of moral problems. This is a wholly welcome trend. I make special reference to the United states, because as the paragon of success and affluence, that country has been an object of emulation for many developing countries, which are eager to follow blindly worshipping the material in the fond hope that that way lies the path to happiness. Many conscientious Americans today, realizing that America has set excessive store by material values, are now turning to the moral and ethical realms as the frame within which technology and material progress are contained and interpreted. This should give Hong Kong citizens much food for thought.
The traditional Chinese educational ideals are derived from the teachings of Confucius, and place equal emphasis on moral development and on the acquisition of knowledge. I give you two well-worn passages from 'The Great Learning', one of the classical 'Four Books' as translated by James Legge. "What the Great Learning teaches, is - to illustrate illustrious virtue to renovate the people; and to rest in the highest excellence". This indicates that the ultimate goal of education is to acquire virtue, to put others into one's own place, and to achieve human excellence. My next quotation analyses the order of learning: "Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost of their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things". Herein we understand that the classics have clearly pointed out the processes and aims of learning: from learning we proceed to the second step of moral cultivation, and then we begin reforming society. Thus, knowledge becomes the means to a moral end. As to the social value of education, 'The Great Learning' states that the welfare of the family, the state, and the world, in that order, depend upon people being positively equipped both with knowledge and with moral commitment. The Motto of this University: "Sapientia et Virtus" carries precisely this message.
Once, when a disciple asked Confucius about the practice of virtue, the Master said, using an example: "A mechanic who wishes to do his work well must equip himself with the appropriate tools". Master Confucius used a practical example to answer what was a moral question, which illustrates his insight into the dynamic relationship between skill and virtue. The skills are tools for the attainment of virtue.
During my long years of serving True Light Middle School, I have tried to put into practice the ideal of placing equal emphasis upon academic and upon moral education, through the spirit of Christianity. I have been fortunate enough to have had the keen co-operation of colleagues. Although it is difficult to appraise the results, the school seems to have won a great deal of approval and confidence among the parents. I shall therefore briefly mention a few means by which the school tries to fulfil that ideal.
Firstly we steadfastly believe that without the support of the entire staff, no educational goal can be attained. A seminar for all members of staff is therefore held before the beginning of each school year. Together, they review the educational objectives of the school, so that the objectives will become clearer to them. With conviction in the objectives thus renewed or confirmed, they are then divided into groups on the basis of subjects and grades to make their plans to put into effect both the academic and the counseling programmes. The counseling programme is mainly concerned with the students' psychology and personal needs, with their relationships with others, with their concern for social betterment, and with their sense of service. This programme receives attention which is equal to the academic programme.
Second, we firmly hold that children should learn through practical experience. Thus, extra-curricular activities are regarded as an integral part of their learning processes, not just as activities added. Student organizations, such as the students' council, class clubs, and various societies sponsor a range of activities which cater for individual differences and creativity, as well as for group endeavours. Through these activities the pupils are taught the principles of co-operation and of decision taking through democratic process. They learn to plan, to organize, to put decision into effect, to solve problems and to evaluate their projects. The teachers serve as guides, always ready to help, remaining sensitive to the need for pupil initiative.
Third, in the midst of the depersonalization the vast population brings to human relationships, we try to inculcate into our pupils a sense of duty to, and an individual consideration for others, not only in the school community, but also in the community at large.
Our starting point is of course to establish friendly and helpful personal relationships in the classroom. It is common practice among our pupils to help those in need, be it academically, or personally or financially. Financial help is often offered anonymously, through the pooling of resources. The two biggest annual events, in terms of social service, involving every single member of the school, are a winter-clothing campaign at Christmas, and a Founder's Day bazaar held to raise a scholarship fund for needy pupils. Each year and average of twenty-two thousand pieces of used clothing is collected, distributed into two thousand parcels, and handed out to the needy in the squatters areas in the neighbourhood of the school and in outlying island districts, and to welfare organizations. The bazaar, which consists of games and food booths organized by the pupils themselves, is a good example of putting into practice cooperative planning, giving free expression to creativity, learning and good public relations, in the selling of tickets and the thousands of customers at the booths, and exercising responsibility in the making of transactions with caterers, as well as in accounting and auditing work. It is fair to say, that the whole show is run by the pupils themselves, under the guidance of the teachers. Each pupil is assigned his task, so that each has a chance to experience the joy of helping others; for the proceeds from the bazaar usually provide one in every ten of his classmates with financial assistance.
We also try to ensure that our pupils accept as a habit, as part of their equipment for life, the spirit of service to the larger community; besides the more common services, of school road safety patrols, the youth and junior cadets of the Hong Kong Red Cross, and flag sales for welfare organizations, our school has made special arrangements with the Ebenezer School and Home for the Blind so that they can offer their services to the blind people there. In this way, their attention is constantly drawn to the needs of the handicapped and of the aged. Warm and caring relationships are continually established, and our pupils move through a different dimension of the human condition. With interdependence as the key to survival of the world, we need to find the means of cultivating in them a sense of global concern too. One year, we contrived to send a substantial sum out of our pupils' Christmas offerings to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) for the relief of flood victims.
And finally, our reward system of True Light School is consistent with the ideal - with the aim of placing equal emphasis both on academic and moral education. This, we are endlessly told, is the age or "meritocracy". Unfortunately, however, merit is often defined narrowly and in terms of knowledge and skills. Do not those pupils who have become dedicated to the idea of service and who are keen to co-operate with others, who have integrity, and who are industrious deserved equal recognition? In True Light, an honour student must excel both in achievement and in character. A pupil who excels in service and citizenship is rewarded for these qualities, even is they have no higher than average academic record. Even the mediocre pupil who courageously and persistently tries their best is rewarded for their efforts. This kind of reward system offers proof to the pupils , that the school takes its ideals seriously.
Some of you present here will now begin to wonder, if the academic standards of True Light School suffer, when its pupils are spending so much time and energy in the pursuit of non-academic goals. Let me re-assure you; for the results of the Chinese Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination show that True Light has always been comparable to other middle schools of high standard in Hong Kong. Moreover, it could be that through learning from extra-curricular experiences, our pupils have found their education more relevant and meaningful, that they have achieved an awareness that school means not only the acquiring of knowledge, but also learning to be human.
I have shared with you some of my own thoughts on the educational ideal, and extracted from my own experience examples of how that ideal might be achieved.
A Hong Kong, plagued with economic recession, over-crowding and a rising crime rate, should present a new set of challenges to this University, and to its students and its graduates. I am glad to learn that a ten-year plan for the University is not being devised for physical and enrolment expansion to meet the needs of Hong Kong. It is my sincere hope that this University may not, under the weight of sheer size, relinquish any of its oriental cultural heritage, but under the wise leadership of its Chancellor and its Vice-Chancellor, will continue to cleave to the doctrine that the inculcation of moral values lies at the very core of the educational process, and that its graduates will continue to fulfil the role of leaders of our society, armed both with knowledge and moral commitment, with which to serve the people of Hong Kong.
May I wish you all success in finding the true meaning of life.