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June 2017
Issue No. 296

Fifty-year-old Taiwanese university offers enrolment incentives to nine Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui sch


(© 教聲/ ECHO 版權所有) 


(© 教聲/ ECHO 版權所有) 

St John’s University, at Tamsui in Taiwan, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary on 29 April. The chairman of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Most Revd Dr Paul Kwong, was invited to give a speech at the ceremony. Aside from anniversary celebrations, the university also signed the Agreement on Enrolment Incentives with principals and representatives of nine Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui secondary schools from Hong Kong and Macau.

The university was founded in 1967 by the Episcopal Diocese of Taiwan and the Taiwanese alumni of the then defunct St John’s University and St Mary’s Hall in Shanghai. Known originally as Hsinpu Institute of Technology, the university changed its name in 2005 to St John’s University.

The university’s connection with Hong Kong goes back a long time. Not only that its founder the Rt Revd Dr James Wong, the first Chinese Episcopal bishop of Taiwan, was from Hong Kong, but the Rt Revd James Pong and the Revd Canon Edmund Der, who were the principal and the vice principal respectively in 1972, were also from Hong Kong; and the Revd Dr Pong Tak-yue, a former principal of SKH All Saints’ Middle School in Hong Kong, has been the head of the Department of Mechanics and the chaplain at St John’s University.

In his speech, Archbishop Kwong praised the university for continuing the excellent traditions of St John’s University and St Mary’s Hall in Shanghai and upholding the Anglican ideal of education in training countless talents to serve the church and society. He stressed that the education ideal of the Anglican church is rooted in Jesus Christ’s teaching “not to be served but to serve”, that is to say that the purpose of education is not merely the transmission of knowledge and advancement of technology, but also the cultivation of character.

Archbishop Kwong expressed his wish that the university will continue to foster excellence in academic and technological disciplines in Taiwan and more importantly to bring up young people to possess the spirit of Jesus Christ. He also thanked the university for nurturing talents for Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui and the Hong Kong society.

St John’s University started to actively recruit students in Hong Kong five years ago. Currently, close to forty students have enrolled and many of them are graduates of secondary schools associated with Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.

Also attending the ceremony as guest speakers were the former president Ma Ying-jeou and the deputy mayor of New Taipei, Hou You-yi.

St John’s University values and looks forward to strengthening its relations with Hong Kong. Therefore, in addition to Archbishop Kwong, a good number of people were also invited from Hong Kong to Taiwan to join the anniversary celebrations and to participate in the International Symposium on Education Philosophy 2017. These included Mr Peter Kwok, the executive secretary of the Steering Committee on Education of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui; Mr Ho Tsang-hing, the Hong Kong education advisor of St John’s University; Ms Ada Ng, the principal of SKH Kei Hau Secondary School; Mr Jonathan Lai, the principal of Lee Kau Yan Memorial School; Ms Cheung Chui-yee, the principal of SKH Li Fook Hing Secondary School; Mr Pang Kwan-wah, the principal of SKH Li Ping Secondary School; Ms Chan Shin-kwan, the principal of SKH Holy Trinity Church Secondary School; Ms Chan Yuen-ling, the principal of St Stephen’s Church College; Mr Tse Che-yau, the vice principal of SKH Holy Carpenter Secondary School; Mr Ho Kwai-leung, the head of the Chinese History department of SKH Tsoi Kung Po Secondary School; Dr Chan Chi-kwan, the principal of Sheng Kung Hui Choi Kou School (Macau); and Mr Leong Weng-fai, the head of the Religious Studies department of Sheng Kung Hui Choi Kou School (Macau). Other participants at the symposium are representatives of higher education institutions from both sides across the strait, Malaysia, and Japan; and of partner secondary schools from Hong Kong and Macau.

Before the commencement of the international symposium, the president of St John’s University, Professor Herchang Ay, signed the Agreement on Enrolment Incentives with principals and representatives from the nine HKSKH secondary schools. Archbishop Kwong, the Rt Revd David Lai of the Episcopal Diocese of Taiwan, and Canon Der, who now resides in Canada, served as witnesses.
According to the agreement, St John’s University will provide financial incentives such as scholarships and on-campus lodging fee waivers to enrollees recommended by the nine schools from Hong Kong and Macau. The parties also agreed to a reciprocal arrangement to invite students and staff to visit each other’s schools or host a variety of seminars and activities to promote exchange.

Mr Jonathan Lai presented his paper “The Challenges Brought by The Values Education Module in Hong Kong’s Liberal Studies Curriculum” at the symposium. He indicated that the Hong Kong Education Bureau had listed liberal studies as a compulsory subject in the new high school education curriculum in 2009. Students must achieve at least a Grade 2 to meet university entry requirements. Mr Lai pointed out that the original intention of the Education Bureau was that students would learn to respect the diversity of cultures and different viewpoints through the process of investigating different issues, and thus would become youngsters with objective, critical, self-reflective, and independent thinking. However, Mr Lai thought that it was easier said than done. Having to provide quality liberal studies in schools on the one hand and to ensure that students gain entry to universities on the other has its difficulties. The key is whether schools can help students grasp the different and constantly changing subjective values. The question as to how to strike a balance, coordinate, and make a choice among them is something that frontline educators need to consider in depth.

Mr Lai stressed that elite schools in many countries base their curriculum on liberal studies. The philosophy behind this is to provide students more space for choices with sufficient attention on cultivating their character and creativity. Mr Lai hopes that all schools could instill their students with the correct attitude so that students could maintain an upright and disciplined character in face of the numerous different values in this world. Students need to be able to hold their personal standpoint while at the same time respect other people with different values.

<The above article was published in "Echo" Issue No. 296. Please click here>


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