Thu, Jul 09, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Parents to rally for free 12-year education plan

SETTING PRIORITIESCompulsory education in Taiwan runs from first grade to ninth grade. Parents and educators also hope to eliminate entrance examinations

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Parents and educational reform organizations plan to take to the streets on Sunday to urge the government to extend compulsory education to 12 years, the National Alliance of Parents Organizations (NAPO) said yesterday.

Alliance chairman Hsieh Kuo-­ching (謝國清) told reporters that the organizations will gather at the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall at 2pm on Sunday before rallying on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office ­between 3pm and 6pm.

Hsieh said the demonstration is expected to attract between 5,000 and 10,000 parents and education activists in support of a free 12-year compulsory education system without entrance examinations.

Currently, Taiwan’s compulsory education only covers the first through ninth grade. Junior high school students usually have to take high school entrance examinations to pursue high school education.

“The public has reached a consensus that children cannot benefit from the current high school entrance examination system,” Hsieh said.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Monday last week that it planned to reduce the number of high school entrance examinations from two to one per year starting in the 2012 school year.

The ministry also plans to gradually allow more junior high school students to apply directly to senior high schools instead of having to take part in the examinations, starting in the next academic year.

However, the NAPO said it was not satisfied with the MOE’s plan, partly because the ministry has yet to announce a timetable to make high school education free of charge.

Hsieh said the president or the premier had yet to make a public promise to grant government funding to support the extension of mandatory education from nine years to 12 years.

“The government would rather spend NT$12 billion [US$360.5 million] providing free school lunches to students than spend NT$17 billion to let students attend high school and vocational high school free of charge,” NAPO vice chairman Lin Wen-hu (林文虎) said.

“The government is not spending money on things that really matter,” Lin said.

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