More than 80 percent of the teachers in junior high, senior high and vocational schools say they do not believe that the Ministry of Education is ready for the 12-year national education program set to be launched next year, a survey by National Taiwan Normal University found.
Not only do the teachers polled lack confidence in the new plan and the ministry, but more than 60 percent are also doubtful that the goals of the 12-year education program can be achieved, the university said.
“Of the teachers polled via telephone, 69.4 percent said the program will not alleviate students’ academic pressure, 62.9 percent think quality of education and national competitiveness cannot be enhanced through the plan and 60.6 percent do not believe that the gap between the city and the countryside will be closed or bridged,” said Lin Chen-yung (林陳涌), director of the university’s Office of Teacher Education.
Lin said the decisionmaking and policymaking procedure has been confusing and generated unnecessary anxiety, causing the teachers to lose faith in the goodwill and feasibility of the initiative.
“Now that the bill for a 12-year national education plan has cleared the legislature, what is left to be done on the government’s part is to make efforts to prepare the teachers, who are the front-line policy implementers for the change, and clear their doubts,” Lin said.
Hsu Tien-ming (許添明), a professor of education at the university, echoed that view, saying that teachers are not opposed to changes: “What they are against is to be changed” passively and one-sidedly.
“Studies have shown that how well education reforms work out depends mostly — 70 percent of the factors — on teachers. Only changes to the ways teachers teach and students learn can make a successful reform,” Hsu said.
As the survey shows that nearly half (49.1 percent) of respondents worried about mounting teaching difficulties and challenges after the implementation of the plan, Hsu said the lack of confidence is the result of feeling uncertain where the program is going.
“Teachers have to face the plurality and differences in students and adapt their teaching methods,” said Hsu, adding that only when the government has a clear view of what kind of abilities the national education aims to cultivate in students can the training of educators and the curriculum be given a clear direction.
“Education is not just about passing on technical knowledge, as we are living in a fast-changing era. It should be based on a philosophy. The students we should aim to develop are autonomous learners, people with responsible attitudes and skilled managers of emotions,” Hsu said.