Legislative candidates and representatives from the three presidential candidates’ camps yesterday discussed education policies at a forum in Taipei, with the majority of candidates focusing their policies on increasing budgets for education to promote fairer access to educational resources and reduce the gap between vocational and ordinary high schools and universities.
Former minister of education Wu Ching-ji (吳清基), representing the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), said the KMT supports raising the education budget from 22.5 to 23.5 percent of the nation’s overall budget, which Wu said would add more than NT$20 billion (US$60.67 million) for education policies.
KMT Legislator Chiang Nai-hsin (蔣乃辛) echoed the proposal, saying that if re-elected, he would seek to implement it by pushing for an amendment to the Compilation and Administration of Education Expenditures Act (教育經費編列與管理法) and recommended using at least one-third of the budget to improve elementary, middle and high-school education.
The Green Party-Social Democratic Party Alliance legislative candidate Lu Hsin-chieh (呂欣潔) recommended restoring the corporate income tax from 17 percent to 25 percent to increase government revenue, raising taxes paid by large corporations to cover potential expenses from educational reforms.
Alliance legislative candidate Miao Po-ya (苗博雅) said that ordinary people are paying their fair share of taxes and the shortage of capital has its roots in the earned income tax credit, which stops the nation’s top 1 percent wealthiest corporations from paying taxes, costing about NT$100 billion per year.
She said that if she wins a seat in the legislature, she would advocate for the cancellation of the credit and use the increased revenue to increase the Ministry of Education’s budget.
Former minister of the interior Lee Hong-yuan (李鴻源), representing the People First Party, said a dozen billion New Taiwanese dollars is a “small amount” considering the nation’s finances, but because of wasteful spending, the government has been unable to generate the capital needed for education reforms.
Lee said a law mandating the stakes to be taken by local governments and board members should be put into place to protect 100 private universities facing potential disbandment as a result of low birth rates, in which case properties belonging to their board of directors must be confiscated by local governments.
Lee said that board members at private universities facing disbandment should be given the right to retain 40 or 50 percent of school property and subject the school property to land-use change. In doing so the land could be used by governments to push policies, such as public housing, and the schools can use the money to pay for severance packages or introduce job placement programs for laid-off staff, Lee said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative candidate Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤), who sits on the Taipei City Council’s Education Committee, said she is against vocational colleges encouraging students to apply to science and technological universities, as it would drive vocational colleges’ out of business and hamper their development.
Wu decried “the credentialism that is rife among vocational colleges and universities,” adding that teachers should not make students study just to pass examinations and should instead inspire them to pursue useful knowledge and expand their professional skills.
DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) policy adviser Lin Wan-i (林萬億) said the DPP would seek to introduce a system allowing people to choose what they want to learn, rather than having the government prescribe what they should learn.
This would stage a bottom-up educational reform that gives teachers an opportunity to live up to their ideals and students would also be able to discover what they really enjoy, he said.
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