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Education for All: Moving towards a Gender-Fair World
In 31 July - 6 August 2018, The University of Hong Kong (HKU) will hold an International Baccalaureate (IB) World Student Conference (WSC) on the topic of "Education for All: Moving towards a Gender Fair World". This will coincide with the IBO's celebration of its 50th anniversary. HKU and IBO are already working collaboratively on planning for this conference. By holding the IBWSC, HKU hopes to encourage and facilitate discussions and research initiatives that address pressing issues faced by global citizens of the 21st century. Leading scholars, experts of the field, teachers and other interested groups such as HKU alumni will share their views and experience in this forum.
Sharing the IBO's initiative to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people, HKU aims to take the lead in exploring world issues by harnessing the power of experience, research and collaboration. We hope to play an active role in encouraging young minds to become compassionate world citizens who embrace cultural diversity and equal opportunities.
Despite all the progress that has been made around the world in enhancing the prospects of girls to receive a quality education, there is still inequality of opportunity in many countries and gender disparity in cultural expectations of educational provision in many. Early childhood education and gender equality are two of the eight Millennium Development Goals, showing how critical the issue of this conference is in our world of today.
This is not just an equality issue; it has political and social implications. It has important economic and human resources dimensions. Agents for change will range from individuals who act as champions, to the U.N. and national governments. They will include the media, public and private educational providers and foundations. Civil society should play an important role in this.
But, agents for change are often best developed through the formal education of those privileged enough to receive it. This is the goal of the HKU WSC 2018. The conference will have the honour of keynote speakers from around the world, who have been active throughout their lives in promoting and/or researching girls' education and gender equality, and who will discuss the concepts, ideas, challenges and hopes that will form the bases for these projects. They will talk about the different levels of progress that have been made with some notable success cases, the deficiencies that are still apparent in other cases or regions, issues of discrimination or cultural/family expectations, the relationship with poverty, and about government leadership or its absence.
With HKU's and IBO's reputation, various companies/organizations in Hong Kong will be interested in sponsoring the conference. The University also has a history of excellent support from the Hong Kong and Mainland business community philanthropists. For the IBWSC in 2013, HKU reached out to Cyberport, a digital community with a cluster of technology and digital content tenants, and successfully secured sponsorship from them. The University hopes to work with its supporters to provide scholarships for IB students who would otherwise not be able to afford to attend this conference.
For organizations working to support girls' education around the world, we will provide a connection to HKU's Excel Centre. The Centre works to build capacity in NGOs through strengthening leadership, management and governance, developing social entrepreneurship, and providing a platform to bring philanthropists, foundations and institutional investors together.
All student participants will stay in one of the 17 residential halls or 3 non-residential halls at HKU. During the 2013 WSC, HKU offered participants accommodation in the Residential Colleges on Lung Wah Street, Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is regularly cited as one of the safest cities in the world. Nevertheless, all participants in the conference are assigned an in loco parentis adult chaperone.
HKU previously hosted the first Asian WSC on a different topic, which turned out to be a great success as shown by student responses. The rigorous study schedule for that conference will be repeated in 2018 with time out for social events such as a Chinese seafood dinner in a nearby island, visits to a technology hub in Hong Kong, photography opportunities on The Peak, and HKU lab tours.
HKU has a number of individuals who are influential thought leaders themselves in the gender equality movement. President Peter Mathieson is one of the 10 university presidents selected to join 10 national heads and 10 CEOs to lead the 10*10*10 U.N. HeForShe movement. Prof. Nirmala Rao has been researching childhood education and girls’ education for her career, and has been invited by governments around the world to talk about her work. Both are keen to be involved in this conference. HKU opened the first Equal Opportunities Unit in a university in Hong Kong, and has had a succession of leading Human Rights Professors in the Faculty of Law. It is planning a MOOC in the area of gender equity. HKU initiated the first HeForShe Scholarship Scheme in 2017, to fully support talented students from low (U.N.) Gender Development Index and low (U.N.) Human Development Index countries to study for their undergraduate degrees at the University.
HKU is currently ranked as the 3rd most international university in the world (Times Higher Education, 2017). As"Asia's Global University", it attracts students from across Asia, enrolls students who are the top scoring students in their country or examination system, and currently has students with around 100 different nationalities on campus. For undergraduate students, thousands currently study for part of their HKU degree abroad, at one of the 340 partner universities across 40 countries, or with a NGO. It is the goal of HKU to provide every student with at least two educational experiences outside Hong Kong during their undergraduate days – one in Mainland China and one abroad. HKU has worked extensively with the IBO, conducting research into the IB Diploma, offering an IB accredited course on Teaching Chinese as a Second Language, hosting the first Asian World Student Conference in 2013, andan IB Higher Education Symposium in 2014. It also admits increasing numbers of IB Diploma students to its Bachelors degree programmes each year, several of whom achieve full scores in their IB Diploma.
Hong Kong regularly hosts over 5 million visitors a month. HKU works closely with the Immigration Department of the Hong Kong S.A.R. Government to facilitate visas for students. In August, temperatures will typically range between 24C and 34C.
An English-speaking city in Asia
Hong Kong is a bilingual city with two official languages, English and Chinese. Although 97 percent of the population speaks Cantonese, business is usually conducted in English. Almost all information, including signs, announcements and government and business websites, is provided in English as well as Chinese.
Hong Kong has a wide range of schooling options, including some 50 international schools, from kindergarten and primary schools to secondary and university education. Together they offer more than 10 international curriculums including UK, US, Australian, French, German, Japanese, Canadian, Korean, Singaporean and the International Baccalaureate.
Children who study in Hong Kong grow up with an international network of friends. They are also exposed to other languages, including Mandarin which is often taught as a second language in international schools.
"it's surprisingly easy to enjoy the city's plentiful green spaces. Over 40 percent of Hong Kong is made up of protected country parks, mountains and beaches. At the weekend, many Hong Kong people head for the city's numerous hiking trails, or to the beach."
-Hong Kong Goverment