Sun, Jul 27, 2003 - Page 8 News List

Carefully plan educational reform

By the Liberty Times editorial

For example, from the integrated nine-year curriculum, to the the lack of continuity between senior-high and university education, to the disparity in the resources allocated to private and public schools, to the lack of regulations on increases in school tuitions, to more diversity in school admissions, they all have problems, some from the very beginning of their implementation.

It is not the intention here to deny the earnest efforts of the educational-reform committee spearheaded by Lee. The problems with implementation from within the government and the divergent views about reforms outside the government are the source of troubles. If the ministry had a department solely responsible for experimentation, implementation and studies in educational reforms, and focus on training school teachers and revising teaching materials, surely the problems with educational reforms wouldn't be as bad as it is today.

Strictly speaking, while it is neither fair nor unnecessary to have Lee or the minister of education shoulder all the blame, both the premier and the ministry should solemnly demonstrate the determination and courage to face up to the problems at hand.

They cannot continue to give the impression of being unable to either explain things or take responsibility, as well as responding in haste only when problems hit them point blank.

For example, the Executive Yuan responded to the phenomenon in which teachers are unable to retire immediately by making a special budget of NT$20 billion to NT$30 billion. Facing rising school tuition, it immediately lowered the interest rates on student loans, and increased the amount of educational stipends for students from low-income families.

While the government's promptness should be recognized, one cannot help but ask why hasn't the ministry communicated the seriousness of the problems to the government over the past 10 years? Alternatively, if it did, what took the Executive Yuan this long to act on it?

Ironically, while some teachers are begging for retirement, a long lines of people are waiting to take over their jobs. Some even have to pay huge "red envelops" to local government officials in order to get positions as substitute teachers. Such structural problems bog down the educational system as well.

Despite the excessive number of teachers, the ministry is recruiting thousands of foreign English-language teachers in the name of "raising competitiveness." How can such conduct not incite popular resentment? No wonder people think that the officials of the ministry are detached from reality. All these indicate the bureaucratic and irresponsible culture of the officials, which is also the reason that the reforms have been hard to implement. This is something worthy of the attention of high-ranking government officials.

The various educational reform groups must demonstrate professionalism, and not become subjects of manipulation by the parties, so as to complicate reform problems. This is something that the people here would rather not see.

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