Fish rots from the head
A number of teachers and myself have taken great interest in Ann Maxon’s articles on education. The first was from March, when she reported on potential corruption with the Ministry of Education’s policies of closing and transforming universities, but there has not been any follow-up reporting on this important issue (“Feature: Teachers say policies enable corruption,” March 12, page 3).
We feel that the old saying of “the fish rots from the head” is quite true in the case of the ministry, where there are so many loopholes for corruption.
For example, how is it possible that the whole immensely lucrative GEPT system is owned, promoted and run by high-level ministry officials?
Why do many ex-college presidents become nominal principals of private schools? Is it because they are familiar and have close ties to those officials who allocate grants?
At a lower level, how can high-school teachers at prestigious public schools be allowed to set up cram schools opposite their schools, sell them at an enormous profit and then open up independent private schools?
This corruption then extends to a culture of malaise among teachers at the grassroots level who are itching to reform the antiquated education system, but feel that it is impossible to change the “status quo.”
We suggest your paper break some of these issues and then allow whistle-blowers access to your reporters. At present it is almost impossible to communicate with them.
The second article, again by Maxon on Sept. 26, regarding an international conference on education and industry issues to be held early last month, also did not have a follow-up on this important issue (“Policy change needed to cultivate talent: experts,” Sept. 26, page 3).
The third article, by Lin Hsiao-yun and William Hetherington, with comments in regard to Premier William Lai’s (賴清德) intent to make English an official language also needed editorial support/comment (“Care urged for English changes,” Sept. 30, page 3).
We feel this policy has a “snowflake’s chance in hell” of ever being achieved under the present moribund education system. We feel the Democratic Progressive Party is greatly lacking vision and leadership in regard to the role of education in Taiwan’s economic and social future.
Taiwan needs creative innovative thinkers and the present Text, Test and Terrible Teaching is allowing Taiwan to fall behind other countries. Even sections of China are more progressive than Taiwan.
Innovative alternate pilot programs that tackle education in an organic holistic paradigm as proposed by leading educationalists worldwide, should be initiated in the public school system, especially at the elementary-school level, to act as grassroot models for reform.
There are many parents crying out for alternative schools in the public system, and refuse to go to private schools for financial and ethical reasons.
It is the duty of public education to provide modern pedagogy in all subjects to all levels of society. The wealthy should not be the only beneficiaries of modern programs.
A brainstorming idea
How about turning the table on the referendum on de jure independence?
A referendum on whether voters would want Taiwan to become part of China (the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, in particular, but not unnecessarily, depending on the scope).
Could China really argue credibly to the international community that this referendum would be a bad idea? They keep harping about their blood relatives in Taiwan. Should we not let them have a say?
Since this referendum would be a failure from the point of view of the CCP, all that is needed afterwards is to formalize the changes of the constitution or alternatively create a new basic law.
If a referendum is held on whether Taiwan wants to join China, clearly it cannot be a part of China as it stands now.
If it is a good idea I would not mind writing a letter and if it is a bad idea then at least it was an attempt.
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