Thu, Jun 03, 2004 - Page 2 News List

TSU gives students an `F' for spelling

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwanese students' ability to write in Chinese has deteriorated since the Ministry of Education eliminated composition as an element of entrance exams for senior high schools and universities, a Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) lawmaker said yesterday.

TSU Legislator Cheng Chen-lung (程振隆), one of the members of the Legislative Yuan's education committee, attributed the deterioration in writing skills both to the elimination of composition testing and to a reduction in the number of classes in written Chinese offered in elementary and high schools.

Cheng referred to an exam given to sophomores majoring in the Chinese language at Taipei Municipal Teacher College. According to Cheng, 94.2 percent of students failed the exam, which aimed to test students' basic ability in the Chinese language.

"Only six students out of 105 passed the exam. It is very worrisome that the students who failed the exam are our next generation of teachers," Cheng said.

Cheng also said that many words are written incorrectly in newspapers and on TV, which showed that the skills of professional writers had deteriorated as well.

Cheng urged the Ministry of Education to address the problem as quickly as possible.

Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) agreed that a crisis exists, with more and more students unable to write correct Chinese and to express themselves well in writing.

"I think the problem stems from our exam system," Tu said.

"The cancelation of the composition test means that students don't have as much opportunity to develop their critical thinking skills and their ability to organize ideas. This is a big crisis in education," he said.

Tu vowed that the ministry will deal with the problem and will consider reinstating composition exams.

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