Fri, Jul 19, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Official says English should be job requirement

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

In a bid to improve Taiwan's chances of assimilating into the international community, Deputy Minister of Education Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠) yesterday said that anyone applying for a job at the government's foreign affairs offices should be able to communicate in English. This echoes a Cabinet order that government workers who can't speak good English six years from now must be punished.

Fan made the remark yesterday in a report to a seminar on the Cabinet's proposed national development plan.

He said that current foreign-affairs office workers must be encouraged to improve their English abilities.

In addition, being proficient in English should be a basic requirement for people who want to work in departments such as Taiwan's diplomatic offices, the Council for Economic Planning and Development and the National Science Council.

"We'll definitely need more staffers who can speak at least two languages in the future because the country is diligently trying to be accepted by the international community," Fan said.

"It is necessary to make it a basic requirement for government jobs, at least. We should start at foreign affairs offices."

Fan also encouraged universities to make English proficiency a graduation requirement.

"If professors speak English in class, it will create an English environment for students and make them feel comfortable to use English more and more," she said.

"The ability to use English well should also be a paramount issue when deciding whether students are qualified to receive their degrees," she added.

The Ministry of Education's (MOE) Public Education Department Second Section Chief Lin Dian-chieh (林殿傑) said on Wednesday that government employees will be administratively punished if they are not able to communicate in English six years from now.

According to Lin, the Cabinet gave a direct order to the MOE to carry out a plan which calls for government staffers who cannot communicate in English within six years to be given an "F" symbol on their annual evaluation forms, which will negatively affect their promotions and salaries.

Minister of Education Huang Jung-tsun (黃榮村) yesterday said that this evaluation plan is only for staff at the government's foreign affairs offices. Also, the Cabinet's Central Personnel Administration (人事行政局) will be responsible for carrying out the plan, not the MOE.

However, he also said that the plan is not the best way to "encourage" government staffers to improve their English.

"Personally, I thought that we should create an end-goal and encourage everybody to reach that goal instead of forcing people to make it by punishing them," Huang said. "That is not the essence of education."

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