The road ahead for education
It is inspiring to learn that Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城) has been appointed minister of education after so much controversy. He is obviously qualified to accept this appointment.
After reading Prudence Chou’s (周祝瑛) commentary (“Education minister has homework,” May 2, page 8), I was prompted to endorse her emphasis on establishing an education reform review committee, which should undertake regular reviews of reforms, examine the status quo and adjust policies when required.
As there has been too much anxiety and too many problems since education reforms came into force, I strongly recommend that our new minister of education get a clear understanding of the current situation and prepare for the challenges he will face after taking office on May 20.
Many variables affect our teaching environment and quality of education. Controversies must be resolved as soon as possible on issues such as the adoption of single or multiple versions of textbooks, the implementation of bilingual (English and Chinese) or trilingual (English, Chinese and mother tongue) curriculums and, above all, the maintenance of quality and student numbers in higher education.
The authorities should seek eclectic alternatives and pragmatic solutions to cope with dilemmas that these issues generate. We should also place more emphasis on English proficiency and globalization and develop competence in dealing with competition in the rest of the world.
There should also be more concern for children form problematic families and disadvantaged groups because positive guidance and a good education can steer them away from juvenile delinquency.
Education is the key to enhancing a nation’s international competitiveness, an indispensable capability for surviving in a changing international community. By revitalizing our education system, Taiwanese will be able to cope with the diverse national challenges ahead, political and economic.
Shulin, Taipei County
Cleaner energy is vital
Earth Day was just two weeks ago. The Environmental Protection Administration marked the event by encouraging people to “campaign against global warming by becoming vegetarians.” Taiwan even has plans to launch a “no car day” to decrease emissions of carbon dioxide. It is not surprising, then, that Taiwanese are quite conscious of the need for cleaner energy and the dangers of global warming.
However, while virtually every other country recognizes the need to reduce reliance on coal-fired electricity generation, Taiwan is on the opposite track.
In fact, Taiwan obtains a surprisingly high proportion of its electricity from coal-fired power plants — the country ranks fifth in the world in per capita terms — despite the fact that such plants are among the leading generators of greenhouse gases.
The prime driver is profit. Taipower, the country’s biggest electricity generator, charges almost twice as much for energy per kilowatt-hour as it costs to obtain from coal, while the cost alone of deriving energy from gas is almost as much as Taipower’s current rate.
This, however, does great damage to the environment: one 4.6 million kilowatt-hour plant in the city of Taichung alone produces more than 60 tonnes of carbon dioxide and 9 tonnes of sulfur dioxide per minute, making it the largest emitter of carbon dioxide of all such plants worldwide, according to Science magazine.