Thu, Jan 23, 2003 - Page 2 News List

New curriculum to stress `Taiwan-centered values'

SHIFT IN FOCUS Education officials yesterday issued the first part of the ministry's revised guidelines for elementary and junior-high schools fields of study

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Education yesterday introduced its revised curriculum guidelines for the primary and junior high schools' Nine-Year Education Program that provide a greater focus on "Taiwan-centered values" education.

The ministry publicized the first part of the revised guidelines covering five out of the seven fields of study, including language, social education, health and physical education, arts and literature and general studies.

The majority of the "Taiwan-centered" content is incorporated into the language and social education curriculum and will serve as guidelines for publishers designing textbooks that will be ready for use by 2005.

The Nine-Year Education Program is designed to combine and integrate the six-year elementary school program and three-year junior high school education program.

In the language field, the new guidelines aim to reinforce the study of local languages which include Minnan, Hakka and Aboriginal languages.

The revised curriculum stipulated that "in order to recognize Taiwan-centered individuality, the course objectives should focus on the learning of Chinese culture and custom as well as those of Tai-wan's various ethnic groups and other foreign cultures."

One previously announced change, turning "Local Literature" into "Taiwan Literature" -- has been strongly condemned by opposition parties, who accused the ministry of mixing political ideology with education.

Minister of Education Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村) defended the shift in subject emphasis, saying it was a necessary move and that it was not politically motivated.

"All over the world the names of great literatures -- such as American literature, Japanese literature or even Scandinavian literature -- are all labeled according to their geographic locations ? so we should do the same to define literature in Taiwan," he said yesterday.

"`Local Literature' is too ambiguous a term, which cannot fully represent the properties of all cultural diversities in Taiwan. We've approached this issue with meticulous care because we don't want people to misunderstand our rationale for changing it," Huang said.

According to the new guidelines the principles for teaching local languages and English include that "the material and methodologies should be based on the practical use of the language -- that the speaking and listening abilities are prior to the learning of reading and writing."

Social education classes will now emphasize Taiwan's historical development through changes in ideologies, cultural and social structures, economic activities and political movements.

Officials say the shift is aimed at "enhancing the students' understanding of Taiwan's important figures and social movements of the past, as well as present time."

The new social education curriculum is expected to boost students' knowledge about the characteristics of the Chinese culture past and present, as well as other major cultures in the world.

The guideline says the objective is to enable students to understand "Chinese historical development with relation to Taiwan, as well as Taiwan's current and past relations with other Asian countries and the world."

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