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Speech by Mr. Tony Wong, JP, Deputy Government Chief Information Officer, at the Kick-off Ceremony of Innovation to STEM Connect (I2SC) 2022 (with photo)

Prof Koc (Prof Joseph Koc, Convener, STEM+E Consortium), Prof So (Prof Winnie So, Director, Centre for Education in Environmental Sustainability | Founding Head of Department of Science and Environmental Studies, EdUHK), Eric (Mr Eric Chan, Chief Public Mission Officer of Cyberport), Michael (Mr Michael Au, Assistant Director of HKSTP), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning! It is my honour to join you all at this Kick-off Ceremony of the “Innovation to STEM Connect” (I2SC) 2022 jointly organised by STEM+E Consortium, Cyberport, Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, and the Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK). I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of you for organising the I2SC initiative and adopting a new approach in the development of STEM education materials to facilitate STEM education at secondary schools in Hong Kong.

It is a worldwide trend to equip students with necessary competencies as early as possible to cope with the challenges and also opportunities that come along with the rapid economic, scientific and technological developments in recent years. To catch up with this global trend, many schools are in a relentless pursuit of innovative solutions that can enhance students’ ability in the integration and application of STEM-related knowledge and skills to solve daily problems and nurture their creativity and logical thinking. I am confident that the STEM education materials to be developed through the I2SC initiative with the collaboration of the academia and the industry will provide effective solutions for our students.

Over the years, the Government has implemented a host of initiatives in a bid to step up the promotion of STEM education in Hong Kong. We are fully aware that young talent is the key to innovation and technology (I&T) development, and we strongly believe that every student should build up a sound STEM foundation as early as possible. In particular in this post-COVID-19 era, I&T not only plays a vital role in economic recovery, but also supports our daily lives under the “new normal”. It is foreseen that the demand for I&T talents in all sectors of the community will be ever-increasing. We need to arouse students’ interest in emerging technologies, encourage them to embrace innovation and explore new ideas by always thinking “out of the box”.

To this end, my office launched a three-year “IT Innovation Lab in Secondary Schools” programme that provides a funding support of up to $1 million for each publicly funded secondary school to organise IT related extra-curricular activities for their students. The programme has been opened for application since December 2020. In view of the overwhelming response, the Government further allocated an additional $200 million to extend the programme to all publicly-funded primary schools under the three-year “Knowing More About IT” programme. Starting from the 2021/22 school year, a maximum grant of $400,000 will be provided to each publicly-funded primary school for organising IT related extra-curricular activities for their students. So far we have received applications from over 360 secondary schools and 150 primary schools. Both programmes aim to stimulate our student’s interest in I&T, strengthen their IT knowledge and enhance their interest in the study of IT and STEM subjects.

Needless to say, cultivation of I&T talent does require the concerted efforts of all stakeholders from the education sector, the professional sector as well as the industry. I would like to call for supports from tech venture companies of Cyberport and Science Park to contribute innovative solutions and the efforts made by EdUHK’s students in converting these solutions into attractive and interesting course materials to support STEM education at secondary schools in Hong Kong. Also, I would like to encourage all participating schools to create more interesting I&T activities and learning opportunities for your students, inspiring their STEM thinking and unleashing their innovative ideas. By leveraging innovation and technology, I am sure we can build Hong Kong into a smarter city and enhance its sustainable development together. Thank you.