Legislation that will integrate preschools and day care centers is going into effect soon. The Ministry of Education (MOE) recently came up with a draft bill, titled “Regulations for carrying out preschool education and care services,” which is set to formally go into effect as early as July. The drafted legislation clearly bans all-day English and bilingual education programs for preschool children. “All-day and half-day curriculums, and separate courses for foreign languages are not allowed,” and “teaching proficiency in reading, writing, and arithmetic is also not allowed”. The ministry also stipulates that Mandarin phonetic symbols (commonly known as bopomofo) should not be taught until 10 weeks before beginning the first grade, and that writing should not be included in any preschool curriculum.
In order to keep children strong and healthy, the MOE also proposes that preschools include at least 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise that makes the children perspire, as well as warm-ups and stretching done both before and after exercise. Officials from the MOE’s Department of Elementary Education say that studies show how aerobic exercise for an extended period of time enhances children’s metabolism as well as their bone and muscle health, and that it is beneficial for their overall health and physical strength.
The Early Childhood Education Act prohibits public preschools (four to five years old) from having all-day English programs, but currently somewhere in the legal gray area are private preschools and day cares (two to five years old), which are rife with all-day English and bilingual programs. Huang Tzu-teng, director of the Department of Elementary Education, says that the ministry is standardizing preschool curriculums in a more concise manner, banning all-English and bilingual education programs. They propose that language education should begin with what is most familiar to a child before teaching them something that is less familiar, placing the most emphasis on learning the national language — Mandarin — and should avoid a “no Chinese” policy, which is said to have a negative impact on preschool children’s Mandarin education.
1. go into effect v. phr.
實施 (shi2 shi1)
例: The law went into effect last June.
2. proficiency n.
精熟；熟練 (jing1 shou2; shou2 lian4)
例: This course is meant to cultivate a student’s
proficiency in applying algebraic formulas.
3. metabolism n.
新陳代謝 (xin1 chen2 dai4 xie4)
例: A person’s metabolism typically slows down
as they get older.
The MOE says that if preschools want to expose preschool children to foreign languages, they should avoid forcing them to learn something for which they have no capacity to learn. The ministry suggests having children listen to songs, telling them stories, or playing games rather than using all-day, half-day or separate courses for teaching a foreign language.
The MOE also believes that teaching Mandarin phonetic symbols too early may have a negative impact on a child’s learning Chinese, for example, causing them to make mistakes when it comes to the proper order for writing the symbols and their pronunciation. They also say that preschools should not allow teaching materials or curriculums that include excessive reading, or that allow children to pick up a pen or calligraphy brush to write, because preschool children have not fully developed physically or visually, adding that preschools must also avoid serving as preparatory programs for elementary school.
The new standards are to be formally announced in July. County and city governments will be in charge of making sure the new regulations are followed. If a preschool breaks the law, it will be fined between NT$3,000 and NT$30,000.