Since coming to power, the DPP has made very few changes to the educational reforms set in motion by the previous KMT administration. The entire educational reform policy was set when current KMT Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) was premier between 1992 and 1997. So it was irresponsible for Lien and KMT Legislator Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) to claim recently that the educational reforms were the DPP's policy.
The educational reforms have become a target of a great deal of public criticism over the past couple of years, and blame for the failures has been laid on the DPP government, the current education minister and Academia Sinica President Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲). The consultation report on educational reforms written under Lee's supervision was shelved by then president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).
Many of the reform policies were not suggested by Lee Yuan-tseh. But now he has almost become the chief culprit responsible for the failure of the reforms. This is really unfair. However, if the government, especially the Ministry of Education, wants to ease the public resentment, it will still need to conduct a thorough review of the implementation of reforms, clearly explain them to the public and propose policies for reforming the reforms.
Lee Yuan-tseh spent two years presiding over the Executive Yuan's consultative committee on education reforms, collecting public opinion nationwide, conducting in-depth research and completing the consultation report. The report was a major, active contribution to the promotion of reform.
In 1998, the Executive Yuan formulated the "Education Reforms Action Proposal." Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄), then convener of the Executive Yuan's education reform task force, said the proposal was "the first real consensus" reached between the Ministry of Education, the educational reform committee and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). "There is no more disagreement," Liu said. In fact, the consultation report included a combination of suggestions that went through long-running discussions. It was the basis for the consensus that Liu claimed to have reached.
Among the many reforms, the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum and the multiple entrance system for colleges and high schools were the two major policies that had concrete and direct effects on the public. They have also been the target of the most criticism. At a discussion forum at the Legislative Yuan last November, Minister of Education Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村) and his three predecessors -- Kuo Wei-fan (郭為藩), Wu Jin (吳京) and Kirby Yung (楊朝祥) -- all agreed that the direction of the reforms was correct. They said the two policies should be continued.
The KMT government decided in 1999 that the nine-year integrated curriculum was to be fully implemented within four years. After coming to power, the DPP government has continued to promote it. However, the three former ministers believed that while the direction of the curriculum reform was correct, it had been implemented hurriedly without adequate complementary measures. The reform therefore needed to be adjusted and improved. Kuo even suggested that the integrated curriculum for junior high schools be suspended so as to conduct teacher training.
According to newspaper reports, however, Huang stressed that the implementation of the new curriculum must be "consistent" and could not be suspended or halted. Why did he insist on pushing the reforms even as several of his predecessors -- two of whom had promoted the reforms themselves -- were advising otherwise? The ministry should thoroughly review the implementation of the nine-year integrated curriculum policy.