Jointly start anew, return to peace and stability, reconstruct mutual trust,
nurture a new generation in innovation and technology and seize the opportunities
23 June 2019
The Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government has put a stop to the legislative exercise on the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (FOO) and expressly stated that the Bill would lapse automatically after the end of the current term of the Legislative Council (LegCo) in July next year and the Government would accept this reality.
The Chief Executive sincerely apologised to the public for the deficiencies in the Government’s work over the legislative amendment exercise. She emphasised that the Government would listen to the views of the public in an open and humble manner, and accept criticisms with the most modesty and sincerity. The Government would continue to serve the public wholeheartedly to bring the future policies more in line with public opinions and needs. She hoped for understanding and tolerance from different sectors of the community.
The present achievements of Hong Kong are not easy to come by and should be cherished by all. I am sure that anyone who loves our city will agree that we should protect and respect the core values contributing to Hong Kong’s success, including the rule of law, judicial independence, protection of human rights, freedom, inclusiveness and diversity.
Hong Kong should return to peace as soon as possible. Let us look ahead and move forward together. By starting anew and reconstructing mutual trust, we can dedicate ourselves to building Hong Kong. In the coming three years, the Special Administration Region Government will focus on developing the economy, improving people’s livelihood, enhancing communication with young people, creating greater room for their development and promoting opportunities for upward mobility.
The SAR Government has indeed accomplished quite a lot over the past two years in promoting the well-being of the public in a pragmatic manner. The Chief Executive has proposed nearly 500 policy initiatives in her two Policy Addresses since her assumption of office. Intermediate achievements have been made on various fronts.
Take the development of innovation and technology (I&T) as an example. The promotion of I&T development is the key to maintaining Hong Kong’s competitiveness and seizing new opportunities. We must speed up our I&T development to catch up with our counterparts, and make efforts to nurture talent so as to inject new blood into information technology (IT), research and development (R&D), as well as industry development.
On nurturing scientific research talent, 30 091 and 5 033 students are enrolled in University Grants Committee (UGC)-funded full-time undergraduate programmes and postgraduate programmes related to STEM (i.e. science, technology, engineering and mathematics) respectively in the 2018/19 academic year. Compared to ten years ago, the student enrolments of STEM-related full-time undergraduate programmes and postgraduate programmes have increased substantially by 59.3% and 46.8% respectively.
To nurture local research talent, we encourage more local graduates to enrol in research postgraduate programmes. The Government has injected $3 billion into the Research Endowment Fund to provide non-means-tested tuition waiver for all local students enrolled in UGC-funded research postgraduate programmes starting from the 2018/19 academic year. In the past year, more than 1 800 students benefitted from the Scheme, involving funding of about $72 million.
Scientific research is one of the many attractive choices with prospects. It was announced in the Policy Address 2018 that we would inject an additional $20 billion into the Research Endowment Fund to significantly increase the funding for research and provide a more stable source of research funding; earmark $3 billion for launching a three-year scientific research matching fund with a view to boosting private R&D expenditure and donations in the research community; and reserve about $190 million recurrent expenditure per annum to support the Research Grants Council in introducing three new Fellowship Schemes to strengthen training, retain talent and enlarge the research talent pool, thereby facilitating the development of the ecology of the local research community.
Enhancing STEM education is one of the eight major areas of the Government’s work to promote I&T development. We hope that by participating in STEM learning activities, students will be able to integrate and apply their knowledge and skills to address the problems they encounter in their daily lives with creativity. By equipping themselves with STEM knowledge and skills, students will be able to cope with the rapid pace of economic, scientific and technological development as well as to meet various challenges in society.
The Government has proposed to provide $500 million in the coming three school years (from 2019/20 to 2021/22) for all publicly-funded secondary schools in Hong Kong to implement the IT Innovation Lab in Secondary Schools initiative to upgrade their IT equipment and facilities and organise IT-related extra-curricular activities (ECAs). Each school will be provided with funding support of up to $1 million. The aim is to lay a sound foundation in IT for students, which in turn helps build up the supply of I&T talent. All the 500 or so publicly-funded secondary schools in the territory will benefit from the initiative.
To implement the initiative, we are seeking funding approval from the LegCo Finance Committee (FC). Upon the FC’s approval, the schools will actively prepare to participate in the initiative, which will receive applications for funding to procure IT equipment such as artificial intelligence (AI) pattern recognition kits, voice recognition kits, drone coding equipment, programmable robotics kits and virtual reality (VR) devices. Schools may also use the funding to arrange for students to take part in the related ECAs, e.g. coding classes, big data analytics and AI coding projects, drone coding activities and production of VR scenes.
Popular science education is important in promoting I&T development. Through hands-on and minds-on STEM learning activities inside and outside the classroom, students’ interests and curiosity in science and technology can be stimulated, thereby enhancing their creativity, collaboration and problem solving skills and developing their creative thinking.
Education is not confined to classroom learning. I encourage students to learn “outside the classroom” by participating in life-wide learning activities for their whole-person development. The Government will, starting from the next school year (2019/20), provide a new recurrent Life-wide Learning Grant with an annual provision of about $900 million for public sector schools and schools under the Direct Subsidy Scheme. Take a school with 24 classes for example. A primary school will receive approximately $750,000 while a secondary school will receive approximately $1.16 million.
The Government supports schools in vigorously promoting life-wide learning on the basis of their present foundation. Schools may deploy the new Grant according to their individual circumstances and student learning needs to promote STEM education in tandem with their school curricula and provide learning activities which are related to the I&T industry, such as workplace experience, talks on related fields and visits to I&T enterprises or organisations in the territory and outside Hong Kong. These activities can enlighten students about the operation and development of the I&T industry, and help them identify their interests and strengths and work out their academic and career goals.
The wave of I&T sweeps through the world, bringing us both opportunities and challenges. It is our common goal to drive diversified economic development by I&T, and nurturing I&T related talent is the key to success. The Government will continue to collaborate with stakeholders including the academic sector, professional bodies, non-governmental organisations and science and technology enterprises to prepare our next generation for taking up the baton for I&T development.