Concerned that the new 12-year education program will lead to decreased national competitiveness, National Tsing Hua University honorary professor Lee Chia-tung (李家同) yesterday said he was in favor of the current high school entrance exams that are held twice a year.
The 12-year education program is scheduled to begin in 2014.
“The government kept stressing that one of the reasons for the new program is to solve the problem of every student wanting to enter the top dream senior high schools, but the fact is, not everyone wants to enter those schools,” Lee said at an event held at the National Taipei University of Education and organized by a group of professors and civic groups who are against the new policy.
Education system reforms have not eased pressure on students and cram schools are still filled with pupils, he added.
The new policy would replace the current high school entrance exams with junior high school students taking exams that would be graded to place students into one of three categories.
Lee said that would mean many students would end up getting the same ranking, giving students less incentive to study and leading to a decrease in overall competitiveness.
He said the education system would be an international laughing stock if a lottery had to be used to decide which school students went to after receiving the same scores.
Moreover, the criteria used for deciding which senior high school the students would go to were unreasonable and unfair, such as using “morality” as a factor to determine exam-free admission, he said.
“It is not a selection for priests to go to a divinity school,” he said, adding that students in junior high school are young and often make mistakes and it would become a nightmare for the students to be judged on morality and the awards or punishments they received as the main criteria for entering senior high school.
“Many great scientists or mathematicians were shy and were not good at interacting with other people. Does it mean they have to be punished or given a poor grade for it?” he asked.
In addition, volunteer work being included as an item in the students’ morality score is contrary to the spirit of volunteering, he said, leading to cases where “students perform voluntary services only for the purpose of getting into schools for further education.”
When the scoring items listed in the criteria are subjective and could be disputed, it would cause trouble for the junior high school, which would not know how to score the students fairly; the senior high school, which does not know how to verify students’ voluntary work; the students, who are forced to draw lots to decide their schools and parents, who must haggle over punishments or awards given to their children, he said.
And rather than teaching according to students’ aptitudes and ability, the 12-year education program would lead to classes of students who vary widely in ability, most likely resulting in students with poor grades being abandoned because they cannot catch up with the class, Lee said.