Beijing, 6 Jun (Zhongxin Net) -- The issue of education in Hong Kong has long attracted attention from the outside world. On 6 July 2022, Choi Ruolian, who has nearly 7 years of experience in education, was appointed Secretary for Education of the HKSAR Government. Since taking office, she has promoted the development of education in Hong Kong from multiple dimensions, with special attention to cultivating students' national concept and strengthening exchanges in the field of education between Hong Kong and the Mainland.

Video: Hong Kong and Macao Living Room | Cai Ruolian: National security education is becoming more and more important, and will continue to strengthen Source: China News Network

Recently, the joint opening ceremony of the Hong Kong Primary and Secondary School Principals' Leadership Workshop and the Mainland Study Group for New Teachers was held in Beijing. On the future development of Hong Kong's education, the advantages and problems of Hong Kong's education, the importance of exchanges with the mainland, and how Hong Kong can continue to strengthen national security education and Chinese traditional culture education, Cai Ruolian was interviewed by China News Network "Hong Kong and Macao Lounge" to further answer these questions.

Excerpts from the interview are as follows:

China News Network: Hong Kong's education issue has attracted great attention from the outside world. After you became Secretary for Education of the HKSAR Government, you said that you would promote the future development of Hong Kong's education from the four dimensions of "science", "education", "rejuvenation" and "national development", and strive to cultivate young people to become a new generation who love the country and Hong Kong and have a global vision. How do you think about it?

Cai Ruolian: On July 2022, 7, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, President of the People's Republic of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered an important speech at the celebration of the 1th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland and the inauguration ceremony of the sixth government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, putting forward the "four musts" and "four hopes". The policy address of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region John Lee Ka-chiu is also in this direction.

The four words "science," "education," "prosperity," and "country" were organized by Li Jiachao from several sections in Li Jiachao's policy address and on the scope of education. What are these four plates?

"Branch" is because of the rapid development of the world, Hong Kong has needs in the development of artificial intelligence, scientific and technological innovation and other aspects. In order to give full play to the role of the "eight centers" proposed in the national "35th Five-Year Plan" and integrate into the overall development of the country, Hong Kong must cultivate students' scientific research and innovation ability, and start from an early age. Therefore, in STEM (Science Science, Science and Technology, Engineering Engineering, Mathematics) education, we will strengthen and set KPIs to provide students with courses related to the "eight centers", and at least <>% of them will be STEM-related subjects.

"Teaching", teachers are a very important piece, why? Because we have also learned the lessons of the past, the fundamental task of education is to cultivate people with virtue, teachers not only impart knowledge and skills, but also lead by example and be a model for students, so teacher morality is also very important. In the area of teachers, we are talking about the construction of teachers' profession and morality, so training is also an important part of us. The key to the success of education in Hong Kong lies in the teaching team.

Video: Hong Kong and Macao Living Room | Cai Ruolian: In the future, new principals and teachers in Hong Kong will go to the mainland for trainingSource: China News Network

This time, I came to Beijing mainly to implement two training projects: the Hong Kong Primary and Secondary School Principals' Leadership Workshop and the Hong Kong New Teachers' Mainland Study Group. In the future, new principals and teachers in Hong Kong will have to go to the mainland for training, because this will allow them to have first-hand experience of the concept of the country, so that they can bring the correct concept to schools and into their educational work.

Regarding the requirements of teacher training, we have updated the "Guidelines on Professional Conduct for Teachers" and added to the professional belief that students must be guided to have a correct national concept and national identity, which is already an important part of our educational mission and our work.

"Xing" means that the youth will prosper, the country will prosper, and Hong Kong will prosper. We consider the need for diverse career opportunities for young people, and in addition to traditional university education opportunities, we also offer a more diverse range of career options, including vocational majors. Therefore, "Xing" we are talking about promoting learning and cultivating talents, so that students have diversified ways out.

Of course, "country" is national education, which may have been a relatively weak link in the past, so we especially strengthen the relevant elements of national education at the stage of basic education in primary and secondary schools, including the combination of inside and outside the classroom. We have now replaced the General Education Department with the Citizenship Course, and all senior secondary school students have the opportunity to study in the Mainland at full expense from the HKSAR Government. I think this is also a very important part of our students. It is very important that they have a personal experience and understanding of the country's culture, history, geography, including people's livelihood and customs, and they are not so easily misled.

Infographic: Ruolian Choi speaks to students of the Mainland Study Group of the Civic and Social Development Division of Hong Kong High School. Image source: Cai Ruolian social platform.

China News Network: In your opinion, what are the advantages of Hong Kong's education so far? And what are the main problems?

Cai Ruolian: Let me talk about advantages first. In fact, Hong Kong education has many advantages, because under the "one country, two systems", the language of instruction in Hong Kong alone is "two languages and three languages", and the language environment is very rich.

Our basic education, including the Diploma of Secondary Education, can be studied and taken in English as well as Chinese, so the integration of Hong Kong students with local, Mainland and international universities is also very "seamless". In many internationally renowned studies, the performance of Hong Kong students, including primary and secondary school students, is among the best, which shows that the quality of basic education in Hong Kong is very high.

Hong Kong's higher education is also world-famous, Hong Kong's eight public universities, five of which are ranked among the world's top 700, such achievements in a city of more than <> million people, I think it is also unparalleled in the world, highly international and has high-quality research talents, are also the advantages of Hong Kong education.

In addition, Hong Kong society is also very supportive and concerned about education, there are especially many school-running organizations in Hong Kong, and the private sector has also invested a lot of resources, including from chambers of commerce, hometown associations, churches, etc. will donate funds to run schools, and many non-governmental organizations will also organize many student activities to support school education. Therefore, the power of the people is also a great advantage for Hong Kong's education; Parents in Hong Kong, like the mainland, attach great importance to education.

Of course, we also face many challenges. Hong Kong is a society where Chinese and Western cultures collide and travel freely, and students can easily access all kinds of values and information, including fake news on the Internet. Therefore, we need to improve students' information literacy and enhance their ability to distinguish between true and false news and true and false information, because the impact of fake information is great. In the face of the impact of different values in the media, we must still be wary of cultivating students' national consciousness and national concept.

The education of values is also very important, and how we can see the world based on Chinese cultural values is also a section that we will strive to do in the future.

Parents in Hong Kong attach great importance to education, but sometimes it also influences the development of students' diverse career paths. Therefore, in terms of vocational and professional education, we will strive to promote parent education, in addition to school activities, we have also specially developed a parent education framework for kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools, which is to match the latest development of education, so that parents can cooperate with school education and support children's learning, so as to improve the effectiveness of education.

We're doing all of the above.

Data map: Cai Ruolian. Image source: Cai Ruolian social platform.

China News Network: You attach great importance to educational exchanges between Hong Kong and the mainland, what do you think is the importance of strengthening exchanges? How do you keep pushing it?

Cai Ruolian: Why do Hong Kong and the mainland have exchanges? Because we are really different, although we are all Chinese nation, but sometimes the understanding of the same word is not the same, so through this kind of physical, face-to-face communication, collision, to achieve the same in the same, the same in the same, seek common ground while reserving differences, everyone in different to learn from each other, exchange ideas, and improve together, which is very important. Especially in education, our teachers must have a relatively broad vision, and must be able to have the ability to "see the wise and think together, see the unwise and introspect themselves" in the communication, and constantly reflect and improve themselves.

Communication is of course also important for students. If students only stay in one place and communicate with the same group of classmates, their vision will become narrow; If they can contact the culture of different regions and communicate with their peers in different regions, they will be able to have a broader perspective and be more grateful for the times they live in. They will find out how lucky they are to be born in this day and age and have so many people who care about them.

After the epidemic, the first group I led was to take Hong Kong students to Guangdong. At that time, I saw that the children in Hong Kong and the children in the mainland were very excited, and when the tourist bus carrying them passed the school gate, everyone spontaneously cheered loudly. So, I think interaction is very important for students, children need friends very much, they need more friends.

China News Network: In recent years, Hong Kong has achieved great results in implementing national security education and national education. In what areas will it continue to strengthen in the future?

Cai Ruolian: National security education is indeed becoming more and more important, because in the face of the complex international situation, we must protect the young generation of Hong Kong.

As for the overall concept of national security, we will continue to strengthen it through various aspects, including mutual cooperation, inside and outside the classroom, not only combining national security education with classroom teaching, but also organizing students to study and study in the mainland in some extracurricular activities, understanding the latest national conditions, so that they can grasp first-hand information, so that their understanding of the country will be clearer and more accurate, which is also a very important part.

Infographic: Cai Ruolian writing calligraphy. Image source: Cai Ruolian social platform.

China News Network: We know that there is a calligraphy of "Ai Lian Said" in your office in Hong Kong, which is also written by yourself. Do you have ideas for strengthening calligraphy and traditional education in Hong Kong?

Cai Ruolian: Yes, I dream and hope that our students will have the opportunity to learn calligraphy, write and inherit traditional Chinese culture. Because I like it myself, although I am busy, I still try to write as much as possible when I have time.

When I came to the mainland, I often visited bookstores to find some calligraphy stickers suitable for our Hong Kong children, and also asked teachers and principals in the mainland how calligraphy teaching in Hong Kong could be carried out.

In fact, the learning burden of Hong Kong students is not small, and it is worth studying how to make calligraphy an element of their school curriculum. In the future, I hope that some schools with the conditions can first try to add elements of Chinese culture or calligraphy to their curricula. (End)

(Poster production: Ni Wenbing, Source: Hong Kong China News Agency, photo by Xu Qihao)