Rural schools need attention
To encourage high schools outside metropolitan areas to use an exam-free admission system, the Ministry of Education has increased the limit on how many can enroll that way to 6,457 from last year’s 2,306.
The ministry is also offering an entrance scholarship of NT$10,000 and it will also provide subsidies to schools participating in the exam-free system of between NT$4 million and NT$8 million (US$136,986 and US$273,973) to hire more staff and improve equipment.
However, all of the ministry’s efforts might be in vain.
Soon after the results of this year’s General Scholastic Ability Test were published, reports in the media claimed that none of the candidates from Liou-guei Senior High School in Kaohsiung scored more than 40 points on the test.
Undeniably, the school’s location in a remote area was a big factor — if given the opportunity to go to urban schools, students would not stay in remote areas.
The ministry has provided substantial funds to schools in remote areas — but have we seen any positive outcomes? What we see is that money alone cannot solve the problem of the education gap between cities and the countryside.
Education ministry officials need to engage with parents and ask them what kind of vision and environment they would like the ministry to provide so that their children could study in their hometowns and have peace of mind. This is the way to address the root cause of the problem. Spending excessive funds without overall planning is bound to have little effect.
The gap between urban and rural areas is a major problem of our education system. However, we cannot judge the success of rural education purely according to academic achievements. After all, each child might have different interests and abilities.
Only if our education system could help students find a career that matches their talents, enabling each student to find their way in life, we would be able to say that it is successful. This is what should matter the most, not whether the student is from an urban school or not.
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