The low birthrate has had an impact on enrolment at junior high schools this semester, a Ministry of Education official said yesterday.
“We have set up a special group to study and manage the issue,” the ministry’s Department of Elementary Education Director Yang Chang-yu (楊昌裕) said.
Statistics show enrolment at elementary schools in the new semester is likely to have dropped to 215,683, down from 230,495 last year, while enrolment at junior high schools dropped to 287,400 from 313,407.
The phenomenon can be seen at Lao Song Elementary School in Taipei, Yang said. In 1966 it was the world’s largest elementary school with an enrollment of 11,110 students, but the number has now shrunk to fewer than 800.
“This is the first year that the low birth rate has strongly hit enrolment at junior high schools, which has dropped by almost 30,000 students,” Yang said.
The figures were calculated based on data compiled by the Ministry of the Interior, he said, adding that the Ministry of Education would announce an official enrolment figure in November.
“In recent years, we have gradually lowered the number of students in each class at elementary schools,” Yang said.
The number has dropped from 35 students per class to 32, 31, 30 and now 25 students per class.
Junior high schools, however, only began to lower the number of students per class last year. Yang said the number went from 34 students per class to 33 this year.
“We plan to have 30 students per class at junior high schools by 2013,” Yang said, adding that the policy for urban schools is to lower the number of students per class, but keep the same amount of classes to reduce the impact on teachers’ jobs.
The ministry encourages schools in remote areas to develop special features to attract students from other cities, he said.
Facing a low birthrate, “we have to consider that this problem will extend to senior high schools in 2013 and then colleges and universities in 2016,” Yang said.
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