Fri, May 19, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Minister voids joint exams for the `gifted'

`ILLEGAL' The education minister said the results of joint exams for `gifted' students held by local governments last weekend were invalid and in violation of the law

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) yesterday said that joint examinations held for gifted students in central Taiwan had violated the Special Education Act (特殊教育法) and were illegal.

A joint exam for more than 20,000 "gifted" students was held last Saturday in Taichung and Tainan cities, as well as Nantou, Taichung and Changhua counties.

Tu yesterday said the test results were invalid, because all five cities and counties had violated the act.

According to the act, so-called gifted students must earn that designation after being observed by teachers or other professionals before taking the test, Tu said.

Many students attended cram school classes before taking the joint exams, and therefore failed to fulfill this requirement, he said.

Also, the joint exams mainly focused on subjects like Chinese and math, while neglecting subjects such as art and music, when the act stipulates that they must be variegated, Tu said.

The joint examinations also meant that students may end up going to a school far away from home when the ministry promotes attending nearby schools, he added.

Tu said that although local governments were often allowed to make their own decisions, they had not listened to the education ministry during a meeting early this month in which ministry officials tried to dissuade local education departments from holding the joint exams.

"Local governments should face reality and understand that the tests were illegal," Tu said.

However, legislators said during a question session at an Education and Culture Committee meeting at the Legislative Yuan that the education ministry had not tried to prevent the exams from taking place.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) said the ministry had only told local governments that its policies advised against schools having a special class for gifted children, but had not forbidden them from holding the joint exams.

"The ministry cannot vaguely say that the joint exams are not advisable and then suddenly decide they are illegal after the tests are over," Lu said.

Lu called on the ministry to admit it had mishandled the incident and refund the application fees of NT$600 (US$18.75) which all the students had paid before sitting the exams.

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