The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday downplayed reports that it planned to spend as much as NT$100 million (US$3 million) on moral education, including designing computer games to help students build character.
“There is no such plan, absolutely not,” said Jenny Ko (柯慧貞), director of the ministry’s Student Affairs Committee. “This is simply one of the ministry’s research projects and the ministry’s Computer Center still has not invited academics to discuss [whether to proceed].”
The ministry did not have a budget for the project, nor had it decided any details of the plan, she said.
Ko made the remark in response to reports by local media yesterday that cited her as saying the ministry would spend NT$100 million on moral education, including encouraging universities to develop computer or online games.
“Computer games are usually violent. Players don’t gain bonus points unless they kill someone [in the games]. We can design games in which players win extra points by solving problems, saving people or doing good deeds,” the Chinese-language United Daily News quoted Ko as saying.
Former National Chi Nan University president Lee Chia-tung (李家同) criticized the ministry, saying it was “crazy” and “wasting money.”
The ministry has drawn mixed reactions since it launched a campaign on June 19 aimed at inspiring people to cultivate good character and lead a moral life.
The ministry originally planned to achieve the goal by spending NT$1.2 billion granting students more opportunities to appreciate art, read and learn about the need to care for the environment. It later slashed the total budget by about NT$240 million, with the majority of the cuts in the budget for promoting moral education.
In a press release, the ministry said some academics had suggested that students could develop their leadership by playing computer games.
The idea was chosen by the Harvard Business Review in its February edition last year as one of the 20 best creative ideas of the year, the ministry said, adding that that was the rationale behind the project.
The idea refers to a theory on the so-called “Gamer Disposition” developed by John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas, who say that video game players develop a disposition that is attractive for businesses.
Attributes of the gamer disposition include the ability to understand the power of diversity, thrive on change and see learning as fun.