Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday met with more than 1,000 parents and students to discuss the aftermath of the termination of tri-city high-school entrance exams, with critics blasting the city government, accusing it of neglecting student’s rights with its poor policy-making process.
The Ministry of Education decided last month that the exam, held in May for the first time in Taipei, New Taipei City (新北市) and Keelung as part of northern Taiwan’s “single-version textbook” policy, would be discontinued next year.
When addressing students and parents who were concerned about the abrupt change in education policy, Hau yesterday promised that the rights of eighth and ninth-graders who studied the city’s designated textbooks would not be affected because the national entrance exam was strikingly similar to the tri-city version.
“I apologize again for any inconvenience and confusion caused by the policy termination. We will communicate with the test center and make sure that students in the three cities will not be affected,” he said during a meeting at Taipei Da-an Vocational High School.
Hau’s remarks failed to calm anxious parents and education activists, who slammed the mayor, saying he failed to take full responsibility for the short-lived policy.
“Hau insisted on holding the -single-textbook policy despite opposition from the central government. The rights of tens of thousands of students were sacrificed because of this wrong policy. And did he take any responsibility for that?” Humanistic Education Foundation deputy executive director Hsieh Shu-mei (謝淑美) asked.
Meanwhile, Taipei High School Parents’ Association director Wang Li-sheng (王立昇) questioned the appropriateness of the city government’s NT$45 million (US$1.5 million) budget to commission the Research Center for Psychological and Education Testing at National Taiwan Normal University to design exam questions for the tri-city exam.
“If the tri-city exam is no different from the national entrance exam, why are we spending so much money on designing exam questions?” he asked.
Hau and center deputy director Tseng Feng-lan (曾芬蘭) did not respond to the questions.
Tseng said both the tri-city and the national entrance exams were held in accordance with nine-year compulsory education guidelines.
The tri-city exam sparked controversy after some students complained about ambiguous reference scores that led to miscalculation of admissions thresholds.
Hau had described the problem as a “technical issue” and insisted on continuing the exam next year, but the education ministry decided to terminate the exam last month, seeking to put an end to growing disputes over the policy.