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Emphasis on local culture needed in vocational education: hotelier

2012/04/24 11:58:03

Taipei, April 24 (CNA) Taiwan needs to infuse its own culture into its technical and vocational education programs and use "art" to help those cultivated by the system reach the highest levels of their respective fields, a hotelier said Monday.

"The key to technical and vocational education reform is to shed the traditional concept of nurturing plasterers and craftsmen, or chefs and engineers, and move toward integrating 'art' into their crafts," said Stanley Yen, known as the "godfather of the hotel industry" and currently group president of Landis Hotels and Resorts.

Most important, Yen said, is for Taiwan to identify its own advantages, such as its democratic achievements, deep Chinese cultural roots and orderly civilized lifestyle, and merge them into the technical and vocational education system.

He cited as an example a production by Lin Hwai-min, the founder of the prestigious Cloud Gate Dance Theatre. Lin decided to tell the story of early emigrants to Taiwan and then brought in religion and Taichi to create a work with truly distinctive features.

Yen said Taiwan's technical and vocational education underwent a dramatic change in 1999 when colleges were upgraded into universities.

Though universities in name, those colleges are in fact general schools, requiring students to study a broad range of subjects rather than gaining an edge in any specific field, Yen said.

That policy now needs to be adjusted as times change, he said, and he urged people to identify their own advantages and take stock of and address their deficiencies and problems.

"Only if the technical and vocational education system integrates culture and civilization can Taiwan differentiate itself," Yen said.

(By Yang Chia-ning and Lilian Wu)