Sun, Jul 27, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Carefully plan educational reform

By the Liberty Times editorial

Recently, the topic of educational reform has come to the fore in the media, public debates and within the political and academic circles. From the contents of textbooks, to the manner of school admission, to the number of students per class, to the number of schools at various levels, to the teaching methods, they have all been topics of debates for over 10 years. They have even gotten the pan-blue and pan-green to point their fingers at each other.

On the one hand there is the group of experts and scholars who had pushed for the reforms and on the other hand there are those who either oppose the reforms and object to the outcomes of the reforms. They have become no different than feuding mobs portrayed on the TV series Taiwan Thunderbolt Fire (台灣霹靂火). The manner in which the two sides call each other names and accused each other is no more civilized than the conduct of the show's antagonist hero Liu Wen-tzong (劉文聰).

Some political parties and pro-unification media seized the opportunity to accuse President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of being "clueless" about how to run this country and accuse the educational reforms of being "a disastrous failure."

Some cast all of the blame on Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), the Academic Sinica president, attacking him in a manner no less ruthless than Liu Wen-tzong's famous line, "I'll give you a barrel of gasoline and a match stick." Even more worrisome is that some anti-reform talks are used to make pro-unification groups' attack of the government "politically correct."

They have also been used to encourage and incite anti-social or anti-reform trends, with the potential of turning into class struggles.

With respect to this potential development, a call is hereby made on the government to in no event repeat the mistake last year, which eventually led to a major demonstration by the farmers' and fishermen's cooperatives, by underestimating the seriousness of the matter.

In addition to making sure that the national educational reform conference being convened in September does not turn into a reform rubber stamp without considered conclusions is drawn and only slogans are chanted, they should first convene meetings among principals of schools at different levels and experts of different academic subjects in one to two months before the reform conference. The purpose would be to review the reform plans of the schools of various levels.

First, find out where the problems are and then appoint experts with professional and practical experience to cooperate and think about solutions to problems. Next, have the relevant ministries or departments set up targets for each phase of the plan, as well as draw up budgets and implement regulations. This is the way to pragmatically face up to problems.

During KMT rule, the educational reform committee headed by Lee drafted a white paper on educational reforms after more than two years of hard work. The collective wisdom underlying the white paper could be characterized as the momentum of the reforms. Unfortunately, the Executive Yuan and the relevant educational departments did not give serious consideration to the proposals made in the white paper.

After the release of the white paper, the committee was immediately dissolved. The bureaucratic officials of the Ministry of Education who suffer from administrative idleness simply tossed the white paper into files at the bottom of their file cabinets. Some hastily accepted the proposals without giving any practical consideration to individual cases.

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