HONG KONG, 29 May 2011 – The Appointment Ceremony of UNICEF Young Envoys Programme 2011 was held this afternoon at the Central Atrium, Olympic City 2. The 40 Young Envoys, after a several months of intensive training, pledged to advocate child rights and promote child-friendliness in Hong Kong with what they have learnt. After receiving the certificates of appointment from our guests, the 40 youngsters were officially appointed UNICEF Young Envoys, who pledged to care for the world and society, and promote child rights, started their tenure today with a much heated mini-debate, which motion is “Moral and Civic Education should become a compulsory subject for Hong Kong students”, at the ceremony.
During the mini-debate, both sides presented their ideas with strong evidence and arguments. The pro-side suggested that it is essential for young people to develop a sense of belonging to their own country and the new Moral and Civic education curriculum can effectively enhance students’ concern to issues related to China. The con-side argued that the curriculum should also shape students’ constructive critical thinking instead of merely implanting knowledge about the achievements of our country.
Althea Suen, the captain of the pro-team said, “It is a controversial and important topic, which has led to diverse opinions among a lot of teenagers. I think it is a subject we cannot afford to neglect as it directly affects young people today and many generations to come. Children and young people, too, have the rights to express freely on all matters related to them. Our voice should be heard and respected.” By voicing out their own opinions about the issue, the Young envoys have demonstrated the right to participation, 1 of the 4 basic child rights, through this debate.
This year is the 25th anniversary of the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF. In the past quarter of a century, we have been working tirelessly to advocate children’s rights, and education is an important tool to empower the youth and their peers. “The Young Envoys Programme is more than just a leadership training – It is also our golden opportunity to plant the seeds for our work for the wellbeing of children and women in over 150 developing countries,” said Dr Maggie Koong, Council Member of the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF (HKCU).
At the ceremony, UNICEF Ambassador Mr Eric Suen, Special Guest Mr Michael Wong, HKCU Council Member Dr Maggie Koong, and Assistant Director of Aeon Credit Services (the programme’s main sponsor) Mr Derek Lai ripped off a dark, sad scene of Hong Kong coastline on a big cardboard to reveal a bright future underneath, which is created by the Young Envoys themselves. The ceremony symbolises UNICEF’s determination to make Hong Kong a Child-Friendly City and to unite all efforts in building a better world fit for all youngsters and children.
The 40 Young Envoys will go on a visit to mainland China during summer to experience in person the plight of people in rural China and learn about UNICEF’s work there. UNICEF Young Envoys Programme was first launched in 1996. Over the past 15 years, we havenurtured close to 800 remarkable Young Envoys. Field visits have been made to UNICEF field offices in Indonesia, Ache, the Philippines, Cambodia, Yunnan, Gansu, Qinghai and Shanxi, etc.