School reform vital: ex-education ministers

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–Three former ministers of education called for the reform of both high school education and the current university admission system in order to make the country’s 12-year compulsory education policy viable on Saturday.

The three men focused on different aspects of the policy, which is slated to go into effect in 2014.

Ovid Tseng (曾志朗), minister of education from 2002 through 2004, said language skills, scientific and technological knowledge, applied math and digital education are the four skill sets that students should be taught during their 12 years of compulsory education. Tseng also called for improvements in teachers’ “digital knowledge” teaching skills. “Otherwise, they will get lost in the clouds when the era of cloud technology arrives,” he said. Tseng, an Academia Sinica member, criticized the Ministry of Education (MOE) for failing to provide teachers with “digital knowledge,” saying the ways current teachers seek further training has remained unchanged. Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村), minister of education from 2004 through 2008, stressed the need for continuity between the 12 years of compulsory education and tertiary education. University education in Taiwan is very much in line with international standards, and the country cannot afford to “dumb it down” for high school graduates not properly prepared by the 12-year compulsory education program, contended Huang, who is now president of China Medical University in Taichung.

“Curriculum design, while still in the works, will be difficult,” Huang said, expressing his concern that some counties and townships may not have the resources and experience to take over the “national high schools” now funded and supervised by the MOE, as called for by the government’s 12-year compulsory education policy.

In response to Huang’s remarks, an MOE official said resources would be evenly distributed across county and city borders, stressing continued cooperation between the MOE and the local governments in the future.

“The current university admission system must be reformed and then people will stop vying for places in the country’s most prestigious high schools, and parents have to change their mindsets, too,” Yang Chao-hsiang, minister of education from 200 till 2002, said at an educational workshop yesterday with his two successors at the MOE.