Exam Yuan revising English test for civil servants

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Members of the Examination Yuan promised to consider President Ma Ying-jeou’s suggestion of increasing the portion of English-language test when recruiting public servants in the future. The president made the proposal at a luncheon he hosted for new members of the Examination Yuan at the Taipei Guesthouse yesterday.

In addition to encouraging the members to carry out bold reforms to upgrade the ethics standards of the government employees, Ma said it is equally important to strengthen the capability and competitiveness of the public servants. Ma noted that he already took actions to improve the general standards and the capability of commanding English, the most popular international language, when he served as mayor of Taipei. Some members of the Examination Yuan said there are currently English test included into certain test subjects for candidates aspiring to work for government agencies. The issue concerning whether to further increase the portion of the English test and make it a mandatory test for all candidates requires further study. Passing the qualifications tests to join government agencies has long been the toughest examination of all tests in Taiwan.

Tens of thousands of people take the exams held every year by the Examination Yuan in order to get what they conceive as the most ideal careers because they will face almost no risk of being laid off and are guaranteed for life-long pension after retirement. Ma also mentioned that there should be separate criteria for evaluating the professors at higher learning institutions and the general public servants. The president said many of the top-notch professors in Taiwan were hired away by institutions in China, Hong Kong, and other areas in recent years. He suggested that the Examination Yuan work out new measures to cope with the issue to keep the talent. The members said they plan to discuss the various issues brought up by Ma when holding their first plenary meeting today. They will also solicit the opinions from the government employees and people in other sectors before adopting concrete steps. There are still a large number of job seekers in Taiwan finding it frightening and extremely difficult for them to cope with job interviews in English, although they have earned bachelor’s or master’s degrees from universities. International English proficiency evaluation organizations placed Taiwan among the bottom four on a list detailing Asian countries and their English proficiency among workers in 2006.

In 2007, Taiwan slipped further to the bottom three, ranking only higher than Japan and Saudi Arabia, in the Asian region.