The Ministry of Education (MOE) is mulling a plan to provide a legal basis to institute a third semester in elementary and junior-high schools, an idea that has already prompted a mixed reaction from educators, parents and students.
A ministry official said the proposed summer semester is part of a five-year program to expand upon the 12-year national education program by making changes to schools’ admission systems, allowing students to attend institutions closer to home, making changes to remedial education, encouraging schools to develop their own individual characteristics and increasing educational quality in rural townships.
The third semester would not count toward overall academic scores, but would give students more time to effectively cover course materials, K-12 Education Administration Director Wu Ching-shan (吳清山) said.
The courses would include local languages and culture, information technology, arts, foreign languages, physical education and remedial classes on basic subjects, Wu said.
Students in rural areas who lack scholastic aptitude could use the third semester to catch up to their urban peers, Wu said.
Under the proposal, the four-to-five-week-long summer semester would still leave about three weeks of vacation for elementary and junior-high students, Wu said.
Many junior-high schools already hold summer classes, but those are more focused on core courses such as Mandarin, English and mathematics, Wu said, adding that it would be much better if the schools used the time to teach foreign languages, arts or physical education.
Schools in the US often offer summertime classes that focus on core courses to help disadvantaged students, although the ministry’s plan is substantially different from those, Wu said.
The ministry would be handling the fees for 100 elementary schools and junior-high schools selected to stage trial runs of a summer semester, Wu said.
Pingtung County education bureau head Yen Ching-hsiang (顏慶祥) said the current attitude toward coursework was too rigid and the idea of a third semester would give many students a chance to try subjects that they might otherwise not have time to pursue.
The proposal also offered an option for teachers who might lose their jobs as the nation’s birthrate continues to fall, leading to declining school enrollments.
The ministry’s announcement was met with skepticism by academics and students, but some parents said they liked the idea.
National Alliance of Parents’ Organizations chief executive Gordon Hsieh (謝國清) said a third semester would only put more pressure on students, and the ministry should seek to change the current syllabus instead of adding to students’ workload.
“Learning is not about quantity, it is about quality, and the ministry should recognize that,” Hsieh said.
One parent called the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) to say that her daughter cried when she heard that she would have to take classes over the summer vacation.
However, some parents said they were happy that they would not have to worry about arranging for summer vacation childcare while they are at work.
IMMIGRATION REFORM: The legislative amendments aim to protect the rights of families to reunify, and to attract skilled professionals to stay and work in Taiwan Foreigners who are highly skilled professionals, top-prize winners in professional disciplines, investment immigration applicants or have made special contributions to Taiwan can soon apply for permanent residency on behalf of their spouses and minor or disabled children after the legislature approved amendments to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法). The amendments, which were proposed by the Ministry of the Interior and approved by the Executive Yuan on Jan. 12, aim to attract foreign talent to Taiwan and encourage them to stay. They would take effect once they are signed by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). The amendments involved changing 63 articles, making it the biggest
FIRST STEP: Business groups in Taiwan welcomed the deal, which does not include tariff reductions at this stage, as they called for the elimination of double taxation Taiwan and the US yesterday signed an initial agreement under the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade. The agreement was signed yesterday morning by Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) and American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Managing Director Ingrid Larson in Washington, the Office of Trade Negotiations in Taipei said. The ceremony was witnessed by Minister Without Portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) and Deputy US Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi. Taiwan and the US started talks under the initiative in August last year, after Taipei was left out of the Washington-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. “The deal that will be signed tonight is not only very historic,
Beijing yesterday blamed US “provocation” for an incident last week in which a Chinese plane crossed in front of a US surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea. The incident came at a time of frayed ties between Washington and Beijing over issues including Taiwan and the shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon that flew over the US this year. “The United States’ long-term and frequent sending of ships and planes to conduct close surveillance on China seriously harms China’s national sovereignty and security,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mao Ning (毛寧) said when asked about the latest incident. “This
‘GLOBAL NETWORK’: The only way to deter a Chinese invasion is for the international community to unite in its resolve, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Roy Lee said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Roy Lee (李淳) yesterday urged democratic nations around the world to not let Beijing dictate the definition of their “one China” policies, saying that they should increase cooperation with Taiwan to build a resilient democratic network. Lee made the remarks during his speech, titled “Ukraine and Taiwan: Why Global Unity Matters,” at the annual Bratislava Forum in Slovakia. “People in Taiwan have been paying close attention to the situation in Ukraine and admire Ukrainians for defending their homeland. They are [also] fighting for Taiwan and democratic countries around the world,” Lee told forum participants. “The international