People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday unveiled his education policies as part of his potential presidential campaign, proposing the government subsidize fees using an 8-6-4 system.
Under Soong’s plan, NT$8,000 (US$264) would be given to all newborn children per month, NT$6,000 per month for children between one and two years old and NT$4,000 per month for children aged between three and four.
According to Soong, the Constitution mandates that the central and provincial governments should allot 15 percent and 25 percent respectively for education, but he said the administration under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was inflating the cost of the education budget.
Soong said that when he was Taiwan provincial governor, the education budget was between NT$60 billion and NT$100 billion a year, “but now the money’s gone.”
He said the central government’s education budget should have more room to grow.
Though the education budget makes up 18 percent of next year’s total budget, allotted funds for science and culture are taking up resources that could go on education, Soong said.
“The Ma administration has the money to set off fireworks, but wants students to catch fireflies [to act as lamps] for their studies,” Soong said, referring to National Taichung First Senior High School not being willing to let students stay on campus at night to study because the school does not have enough money to pay the electricity bill.
To adapt to the smaller population of children, schools should implement a system of smaller classes and cap each class at 25 students starting from first grade, Soong said, adding that there should be bilingual public and private kindergartens established, with the government subsidizing child-care fees.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer