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USEd attends opening of school year in reconstructed schools in Sichuan (with photos)  

The Under Secretary for Education, Mr Kenneth Chen, today (September 1) attended the opening of the school year in two schools reconstructed after the disastrous earthquake in Mianyang Municipality in Sichuan Province.

Mr Chen, accompanied by the Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Chengdu, Mr Eddie Poon, also visited other schools reconstructed with funding support from the HKSAR for an update on the progress of the reconstruction projects.

Mr Chen said he was glad to see the high-spirited Sichuan students who attended class on the first day of the new school year in the reconstructed premises. Encouraging them to face the new challenges ahead, he said, "The new school premises are built to provide a better learning environment for all of you. I hope that, having gone through tough times in the past two years, you will continue to work hard in pursuit of knowledge and contribute to Sichuan and the country in future with the same perseverance.

"Over 60 school reconstruction projects supported by the HKSAR Government are to be completed. Students who have suffered from the calamity of the Sichuan earthquake will soon resume their normal school-life. The heavy downpours in the past few months have made it very difficult to proceed with the reconstruction work, therefore every reconstructed school is the result of toil and effort," he added.

He thanked the school management and the construction teams for their unfailing efforts in ensuring project progress and quality.

During his visit to Sichuan today, Mr Chen visited Mianyang Secondary School, Santai County First Secondary School and Mianyang Zijing Minzu School. The three schools were severely damaged during the May 12, 2008, earthquake and were reconstructed with funding support from the HKSAR. A non-governmental organisation was also involved in the Mianyang Zijing Minzu School project.

The reconstruction work of Mianyang Secondary School and Santai County First Secondary School took nearly two years. The new schools, with facilities including integrated laboratory complexes, student hostels, canteens, libraries and playgrounds, were inaugurated today.

While chatting with the students, Mr Chen expressed care and concern for the hardships of the students, who have had to study in poor conditions since the earthquake. He also assured them of the Hong Kong education sector's support for their resumption of classes as soon as possible.

Formerly called Mianyang Minzu Secondary School, Mianyang Zijing Minzu Secondary School was reconstructed with funding support from the "Trust Fund in Support of Reconstruction in the Sichuan Earthquake Stricken Areas". It was a joint project of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers and the local government, aiming to provide education to ethnic minorities in Abazhou, one of the earthquake-stricken areas. The school re-opened in March after the completion of reconstruction work early this year. The word "Zijing" (bauhinia) is incorporated into the school name to acknowledge the love and care of Hong Kong people. During his visit, Mr Chen was welcomed and blessed by the students in their traditional way.

Mr Chen went to Chengdu in Sichuan Province yesterday morning (August 31) after attending the Forum of Ningbo-Hong Kong Education Co-operation 2010 the day before. In the afternoon, he visited Jintang County YMCA Hong Kong School, which is still under construction, and was briefed on the progress of the works. The school is an NGO project undertaken by the YMCA of Hong Kong, and the construction work on the new school premises will be completed in late October this year.

Ends/Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Issued at HKT 18:11