The Hengchun Peninsula was settled and developed rather early, but because many of its historical materials were left unattended, most of them have disappeared. Last month Nien Chi-cheng, a historical researcher who has been collecting the peninsula’s historical documents for a long time, came across some diplomas issued by the Kenting branch of the Hengchun public school during the Japanese colonial era. For a school for which there does not seem to be any historical record, it is now possible to catch a glimpse of what it was like. The stories told by its alumni also reveal the emphasis that the Japanese places on education in remote areas.
Lee Chin-shun, who is now 85, is an alumnus of Hengchun Junior High School’s class of 1941. Holding a well-preserved diploma from the school’s Kenting branch, he recalls how unforgettable his school years were. In those days the Japanese decided to set up a four-year branch school in the remote Kenting area, and students would then continue their fifth- and sixth-year education at the Hengchun school’s main campus. The branch school enjoyed the same resources as the main school. This practice, which placed emphasis on education in remote areas, prompts Lee to heave a sigh as he says, “Compare that with the difficulty that education in remote areas is facing today. The government should really reflect on itself.”
Nien observes that the materials preserved by Lee show that the Kenting branch was founded in 1930. Although it was established to expedite governance and assimilation, subjects like science, music and physical education were not neglected. A diploma was given upon completion of the four-year education in the branch school. As Lee recalls, many of his classmates, as well as his brother Lee Shun-szu, were able to pass tests and enter good schools and government agencies after receiving an education in Hengchun. They were not seen as inferior just because they received their education in a remote area.
(Liberty Times, translated by Ethan Zhan)
Photo: Tsai Tsung-hsien, Liberty Times
1. diploma n.
修業證書，畢業證書 (xiu1 ye4 zheng4 shu1, bi4 ye4 zheng4 shu1)
例: I have a diploma in medicine.
2. alumnus n. (plural alumni)
畢業生；校友 (bi4 ye4 sheng1; xiao4 you3)
例: They will invite the alumni to share their experience with the students.
3. inferior adj.
矮人一截 (ai3 ren2 yi4 jie2)
例: Our teachers are very encouraging and never make us feel inferior to anybody.
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