The government’s plan to extend compulsory education to 12 years will be implemented in 2014 as originally planned, Taipei City’s Department of Education said yesterday, dismissing protests from a group of students from well-known high schools who called for authorities to continue administering high school entrance exams.
The central government’s plan to extend compulsory education from nine to 12 years in 2014 drew opposition from a group of students from Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School and Taipei First Girls’ High School who accused the Ministry of Education of rushing through the extension of compulsory education without a comprehensive plan. The students said this would damage the quality education at top-tier schools such as their own.
Jianguo High School recently released a poll that was conducted among 3,000 junior high school students, in which more than 45 percent said they supported continuing the high school entrance exam system, while only 12 percent said they supported extending the compulsory education system.
Joining the group of students in calling for the policy to be delayed, students at Taipei First Girls’ High School launched an “anti-12-year compulsory education” campaign on Facebook, vowing to hold a rally against the policy on May 26 if the ministry failed to respond positively to their demands.
Taipei City Department of Education Commissioner Ding Ya-wen (丁亞雯) yesterday said the department respected the students’ opinions, but added that the policy would be implemented and high school entrance exams would gradually be phased out.
“Entrance exams will continue to account for a certain percentage of our multiple school admissions channels, but ultimately, exam-free admission is our goal ... You cannot reject the changes and insist on keeping the exam system,” she said in a question-and-answer session at the Taipei City Council.
In response to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Chen Yu-mei’s (陳玉梅) concerns about the threat posed to the existence of prestigious high schools by abolishing the entrance exam system, Ding said the policy would not have a negative impact on elite education, but would instead improve the quality of education for all schools in Taipei.
Abolishing the entrance exam system will remove a major burden for students and allow them to attend high schools in their own neighborhoods, she said.
In Taipei, about 25 percent of high schools will be allowed to hold entrance exams in 2014, while the department expects to fully abolish entrance exams by 2019.