Sun, Nov 30, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Education gets budget injection

MASSIVE DEVELOPMENT An amount of NT$50 billion has been earmarked for a five-year education project that includes building an Austronesian center in Taitung


The Ministry of Education will budget NT$50 billion for a five-year educational project, aiming to create a cultural park for Austronesian studies in Taitung and elevate the quality of Taiwan's universities, Education Minister Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村) said yesterday.

The ministry's NT$50 billion educational project was included in the Cabinet's "10 New Major Construction Projects" plan, which will spend NT$500 billion to lift the nation's competitiveness ranking to third in the world. Education has been singled out by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as the plan's key ingredient.

Viewed as the focal project of the five-year educational plan, the cultural park of Austronesian studies, which will be adjacent to the National Museum of Prehistory in Taitung County, is anticipated to raise Taiwan's international recognizability and academic uniqueness, Huang said.

"Taiwan has been recognized in academic circles in recent years as the origin of Austronesian culture," Huang said.

"We should take advantage of this to build Taiwan into the home of Austronesian studies worldwide, highlighting Taiwan's significance in human evolution history and cultural development," he said.

Huang said that Taiwan's Aboriginal people, in particular, preserved many linguistic and cultural characteristics that have already disappeared in other Austronesian groups in Southeast Asia and Oceania.

According to the ministry's outline, the NT$5 billion cultural park complex will feature a research center, a library, a museum, an international conference hall and an art village.

"These are all expected to promote the development of industries and business in Taitung," Huang said, emphasizing that the project will create about 3,500 jobs and bring in revenue of almost NT$8.75 billion.

Huang said the ministry will enhance international exchanges pertaining to Austronesian studies by holding international conferences and exhibitions, thereby increasing networking opportunities between academics and students.

The ministry will cooperate with the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu, Hawaii, and draw on its experience in successfully combining cultural aspects and tourism, Huang said.

He further said the ministry's top priority is to develop at least 15 universities to top the rankings of Asian countries' academic institutions within five years. The target is to have at least one university among the top 100 in the world within 10 years.

Huang Hong-pin (黃宏斌), director of the ministry's department of higher education, said the ministry has been working towards the goal to raise the quality of Taiwan's universities for years, and now the Cabinet's project would support their efforts.

"What counts is to set up a credible evaluation system for universities and apply their budgets and resources accordingly," Huang Hong-pin said.

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