The Taipei City Government’s first international exchange program for public high-school students, set to begin in September, met with difficulties due to a lack of response from most countries, Taipei City’s Department of Education said yesterday, pledging to do more to seek cooperation from schools in foreign countries.
The city government budgeted NT$20 million (US$670,000) this year to start the one-year exchange program for public high-school students in its latest effort to broaden local students’ education and perspectives, and it will send five students to Canada this year.
However, the program received lukewarm responses from most countries, including Singapore, the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, due to conflicting school terms or time constraints because the department only started contacting foreign schools in February.
Lee Shun-chi (李訓智), a divisional chief in the department, acknowledged the difficulties in getting more schools in foreign countries to participate in the program as he presented a report on the program yesterday in a meeting with the city’s international committee, but said the city would seek assistance from the Ministry of Education.
According to the report, the department sought cooperation from foreign schools through the nation’s representative offices or Taiwanese student alumni associations in those countries. However, apart from Canada, schools in other countries either gave no response or expressed difficulties in participating in the program.
“Schools in England, for example, said students in the last year of high school would be busy -preparing for entrance exams, and the program would not be appropriate for them. It’s not that we are not working hard enough. The department will not give up on the program. In fact, we will allocate more funding to it next year and send more high-school students to study abroad,” he said.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) expressed concern about the lack of participating schools in the program, and said sister cities he visited last year in England and Germany expressed great interest in the student exchange program.
“Taipei is a young city, and we want our young citizens to broaden their vision through exchange programs, and such a program can also introduce Taipei and Taiwan to students from all over the world,” he said.
Committee member Emile Sheng (盛治仁) suggested the department should prioritize students from low-income families in the program.
Hau instructed the department to make the program a priority, and seek cooperation from the ministry to promote the program.