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54% of Taiwanese dissatisfied with education reform: Poll

06/22/2024 07:49 PM
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Professor Huang Kun-huei Education Foundation Chairman Huang Kun-huei. CNA photo June 22, 2024
Professor Huang Kun-huei Education Foundation Chairman Huang Kun-huei. CNA photo June 22, 2024

Taipei, June 22 (CNA) Over 50 percent of Taiwanese are disappointed with the country's education reform over the past three decades, according to a survey released by the Professor Huang Kun-huei Education Foundation on Saturday.

The poll showed that only 42.8 percent of Taiwanese approved of the government's overhaul of Taiwan's education policy in the 1990s, while 54.1 percent were not satisfied.

The greatest dissatisfaction was in the 35-64 age range, where 60 percent of the respondents expressed disappointment with the reforms, according to the poll, which was conducted May 24-27 among 1,068 Taiwanese.

At a press conference on Saturday, the foundation's chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) said that the reforms, initiated in 1994 in response to advocacy by civil groups, had impacted middle-aged and younger people.

They were the ones directly affected, particularly by the policy changes that resulted in a much higher number of university diplomas, according to Huang.

One of the "after effects" was the "devaluation" of diplomas, as they were no longer a guarantee of a career, given the resulting proliferation of them, he said.

When the civic groups, including the Humanistic Education Foundation, took to the streets of Taipei in April 1994 to advocate for education reform, their calls included reducing the number of students in each class, establishing more high schools and universities across Taiwan, and modifying the curricula to better cater to the needs of students.

The march paved the way for the formation of an education reform committee under the Executive Yuan later that year to modify the curricula and certain regulations, as well as to improve the quality of teachers and textbooks.

Huang Cheng-chieh (黃政傑), head of the Institute of Taiwan Education Studies, said Saturday that another downside to the reforms was that more people were choosing high schools and universities over vocational training institutes, which resulted in a shortage of skilled workers in many industries.

While the government has ramped up its efforts in recent years to align tertiary education with industry needs, the effectiveness of that initiative is yet to be seen, he said.

Meanwhile, Kuo Sheng-yu (郭生玉), convener of the survey team, urged the government to expand the current 12-year compulsory education system -- currently geared towards students aged six to 18 -- to include children aged five.

That would allow the government to bring in more resources and provide a more comprehensive learning experience for five-year-olds, he said.

(By Chen Chih-chung and Teng Pei-ju)

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