Polarizing education reform
Reading news reports which said that the Ministry of Education (MOE) recently drafted legislation that bans all-day English and bilingual education programs in preschools prompted a mixed reaction (“New legislation for preschool bans formal bilingual education,” June 9, page 13).
On the one hand, I feel happy for preschool children because, in my opinion, kindergartens in Taiwan are more like cram schools, where students are forced to learn an ever-growing number of different subjects.
The reason for this is that parents in Taiwan have the deeply-rooted idea that their children must not fall behind others at the starting line. Therefore, they force their kids to learn a lot and disregard the fact that children should be satisfied and able to fulfill their need for fun and enjoyment and to interact and play with their peers.
Among the overwhelming array of subjects children are froced to learn, English is the one that gets the greatest emphasis. Banning bilingual or English programs in preschools could give those kids more time to explore the world that lies beyond their alphabet worksheets.
Moreover, the draft also suggests that preschool children should have 30 minutes of outdoor exercise every day. Avoiding too much paper work and increasing the time students play outside the classroom could give preschool children in Taiwan a more complete, happier and healthier childhood.
On the other hand, the news made me feel a little bit depressed. If we can wipe out the idea that children have to win all the time from the moment they join the starting line, maybe we would not have to make laws regulating how many minutes our kids should exercise every day or when they should start to learn Mandarin phonetic symbols or English.
The draft bill is just the first step. We have a long way to go.
A tall order for Mr Su
Let me first congratulate you, Mr Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), on being elected chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with a high percentage of the vote. On polling day, your newspaper campaign ads said: “Mission: Be the one people rely on! Be a strong political party!”
You mentioned that this message referred to your goal of alleviating people’s suffering and speaking out for them to make up for the government’s incompetence. These statements incited me to write this letter to ask you, Chairman Su, what kind of meaningful things you plan to do for Taiwan.
Today, President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government has messed up the nation. People’s lives are full of pain and anxiety. Let me ask you: How are you going to deal with this incompetent Ma administration?
I do not think we can solve the problem immediately just by making up for its incompetence and mistakes. Since the Ma administration has pushed Taiwan closer toward China, the nation has gradually been losing its democracy, freedom, human rights and sovereignty.
As the saying goes: “Government officials are the servants of the people.” So if you hired a servant who turned out to be an outlaw and who lied, stole and even fornicated with outsiders, please explain how you would handle it. The best way, in my view, would be to get rid of that bad servant.
Now, Taiwan has a great many internal problems. I advise you to solve these internal problems first before starting negotiations with foreign countries. Similarly, when resolving internal family problems, we need to discuss and work out solutions within our family first before discussing anything with outsiders. It is important for family members to be the ones to solve their problems within the family unit. It is gravely important not only to alleviate the suffering of Taiwanese, but also to prevent Taiwanese from suffering. Otherwise, there is not much value and meaning to your being a political party chairman.