HKU Alumni


Hong Kong University Graduates Association Education Foundation

Passion for Education

Sep 7, 2018

By the Hong Kong University Graduates Association Education Foundation


Two schools founded by the Hong Kong University Graduates Association Education Foundation (EF) are going full steam ahead with drives to create exemplary education.


EF Chairman Mabel Lee (LLB 1974) spoke with excitement about the progress and achievements made by the schools. With about 200 members and 20 associates, EF comprises devotees to quality education in Hong Kong. “Our vision is not limited to our own schools alone,” said Mrs Lee. “We want to share with other schools what we have learned. Our members aspire to providing quality education to our future generations and share a common desire to contribute to the society.”


Besides promoting learning with joy, HKUGA Primary School is keen to foster a positive mindset and self-confidence among students. It has since 2016 incorporated positive education into its school culture, activities and curriculum. Banners highlighting 24 character strengths covering humility, perseverance, curiosity, kindness etc. are posted in classrooms, library and on school walls. In morning assembly and classroom time, teachers and students encourage one another with positive reflections on own life experiences.


HKU’s Chair Professor of Psychology, Terry Au, is a member of the school’s Sub-Committee on Positive Education. She said, “Positive Education has its roots in Positive Psychology. Both focus on making good use of one’s strengths to learn and grow as a thinker and as a person. This relatively new approach to education and life helps balance the traditional focus on performance standards, tests and assessments, success and failure, weaknesses and deficits, and remedies and treatment…. If we feel safe to stretch our minds to explore, we will learn better. Positive Education offers that safety.” 


Principal Christina Wong (MEd 2009) said the school has trained teachers and localised the content. “We have covered character traits valued by the Chinese culture, for example showing respect for the elderly.”


To enhance the facilities to meet our future learning and teaching needs, Principal Annie Chu (BSocSc 1974) said that EF has also played a key role in raising funds for the construction of an extension building at the Primary School, due to be completed next year costing HK$60 million.


Last year, a delegation comprising EF members (including the Chairman, Vice Chairman Kenneth Tse (BSocSc 1973; DipManStud 1980; MBA 1986) and HKUGA College Supervisor Fanny Lam (BA 1974; CertEd 1976)), principals and teachers from both schools went on a study mission in Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia. Through class observations and in-depth discussion with school management there, they obtained further insights into both positive education and the Philosophical Inquiry (PI) approach currently adopted by the College.


Having joined the Federation of Australasian Philosophy in Schools Associations in March this year, EF is keen to share with other schools the PI approach under which teachers act as facilitators, challenging students to think broadly.


Rare for a local school, HKUGA College has put in place a systematic PI training programme for its teachers, among efforts to nurture global citizens capable of thinking critically, caringly, collaboratively and creatively.


The key developer and proponent of PI, Professor Philip Cam from the University of New South Wales, offered training in the College. In July this year, EF Vice Chairman CM Mak (BSc(Eng) 1973; MSc(Eng) 1980)  and three College teachers went to Perth, Australia, for experience sharing with their counterparts there.


“PI equips students to cope with rapid changes and make contributions in today’s world”, said Mrs Lam, “by enhancing their ability to integrate knowledge obtained from various sources and be open to other people’s ideas”.


Principal Corina Chen (BA 1984; PGDE 1990) said PI is part of the college’s drive for whole person development. Teachers’ involvement is crucial. “We appreciate their even using their spare time to explore meaningful learning opportunities.”


With a teacher student ratio of 1: 9.2, HKUGA College caters to different interests and learning differences among students by offering a broad range of subject choices. The diverse talents of the school’s students are proven by the numerous accolades they have won in wide-ranging inter-school contests, covering both sports and arts.


To further broaden students’ horizon, the school organised exploratory trips in remote parts of China in conjunction with the China Exploration and Research Society.


Tapping into its members’ networks and resources, EF has reached out to the wider school community. For the seventh year it is running a mentorship programme, as part of its School Plus initiative, that pairs up mid-level managers in large companies with students in schools with limited connections. “The mentors’ sharings help students understand that there can be different pathways for career success besides getting a degree,” said Mrs Lee.


Last year EF organised various public seminars including the one entitled “Secondary School Curriculum Reform: Looking Back and Looking Forward”; others on educational challenges facing students from ethnic minorities and deprived families; the issue of student suicides and how positive education can help.


Mrs Lee calls on individuals with a passion for education to join EF. “We welcome anyone who shares our goal.”