Fri, Jul 13, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Premier lists problems ahead for Taiwan

PRESSING CONCERNS:Sean Chen told the Cabinet the country faces a series of major issues, including lackluster rates of adult education and climate change challenges

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) yesterday urged Cabinet members to step up efforts to advocate lifelong learning for all to increase the amount of time Taiwanese spend reading, as the nation increasingly becomes an aging society and as it witnesses an increase in its immigrant population.

According to a briefing presented by the Ministry of Education to the Cabinet yesterday, the illiteracy rate in Taiwan last year stood at 1.83 percent, which is lower than the average rate of 2 percent in advanced countries.

Despite that, the rate measuring the amount of time spent learning by Taiwanese adults aged between 16 and 64 was only 30.96 percent, lower than the rate of 42 percent seen in EU countries, the ministry said.

It was estimated that about 43.34 percent of Taiwanese spent less than one hour per week learning, the report showed.

In the face of a rapidly aging population alongside increasing numbers of immigrants, the government should vigorously promote lifelong learning in the pursuit of the nation’s “soft power” and to enhance its competitiveness, Chen was quoted as saying in a press statement.

As of May, Taiwan was home to about 465,000 new residents, most of whom came from Southeast Asian countries to marry Taiwanese men.

Some of the immigrants are college graduates in their original countries, but they are counted as illiterate because they cannot read Chinese, Minister Without Portfolio Luo Ying-shay (羅瑩雪) said.

Separately, Chen demanded that Cabinet members hold climate-change impact assessments on a regular basis after the Council of Economic Planning and Development presented a briefing on the issue.

In the council’s report, it proposed setting up a commission, independent of the government, to deal with the effects of climate change.

The council said that the nation has to make adjustments to infrastructure, improve the way it uses water and land resources, reflect on river and coastal management practices and increase the supply of energy and food production while also making energy and food sources more adaptable to climate change.

In response, Chen said the commission could create a permanent mechanism composed of government officials and experts to be in charge of sustainable growth policy initiatives under the direction of the National Council for Sustainable Development Network.

In addition, the Executive Yuan will organize a meeting with heads of local governments on Tuesday next week to explore extreme-weather disaster-response scenarios.

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