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Talk of the Day -- Wasteful reading promotion campaign?
Central News Agency
2013-12-28 09:45 PM
The National Academy of Civil Service (NACS), a unit under the Examination Yuan in charge of training civil servants and promoting lifelong learning among them, has been carrying out a reading promotion campaign over the past two years, according to a media report. Under the program, a special committee has been formed to select a book for civil servants to read each month, the report said.

Over the past two years, this committee has sponsored over 12,000 activities to encourage civil servants at various levels to read the committee-recommended books.

It has also sponsored regular writing contests to encourage civil servants to write down their views and thoughts on the books they read. A combined total of NT$380,000 (US$12,659.7) in prize money has been offered in each contest.

The efforts, however, have drawn a cool response from civil servants, with only 2,675 entries having been contributed in the 35 contests held this year. The following are excerpts from a special report in the Saturday edition of the United Evening News on the NACS's public servant reading campaign: The NACS's reading campaign has not only been promoted among central government staff but also local government officials. In 2012, 5,453 events were staged to extol the merits of reading. This year, 6,847 similar events have been mounted for the same purpose. The figure marks a 26 percent annual growth, or an average of 18 NACS-sponsored reading promotional activities held in Taiwan each day. Besides selecting a book for civil servants to read per month, the NACS special committee has also organized reading workshops, meetings with authors, writing workshops and knowledge cafe workshops every month.

In addition, the committee has sponsored writing contests regularly to encourage civil servants to read the recommended books carefully and write down their opinions.

Individual awards are given in two categories -- public policy and management knowledge, and self-development and humanistic concern. The top three winners in each category receive NT$60,000, NT$40,000 and NT$30,000 in prize money, respectively, while six runners-up each receive NT$10,000. The committee also offers group prizes for the 15 best-performing central or local government units in each contest. Staff members in those elite groups can receive merits or other morale-boosting honors.

Such contests were held 36 times last year and 35 times this year.

The committee received only 2,675 entries this year, indicating that only 0.7 percent of the country's 340,000 civil servants have responded to the NACS's reading and writing campaign, while fewer than 122 public servants in each city or county in Taiwan have entered the writing contests.

The Facebook fan page of the NACS's special reading program has so far collected 2,000-plus "likes," meaning that only 0.58 percent of the country's 340,000 civil servants like or support the campaign.

Responding to criticsm that the campign has failed to realize its goal while wasting a lot of government resources, NACS head Tsai Pi-huang argued that the academy has only sponsred some of the workshops, while many of the other events are organized by various government units, public schools and government-run hospitals.

Moreover, Tsai said, many of the workshops have received enthusiastic responses from school and hospital staff. (Dec. 28, 2013) (By Sofia Wu)

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