Resistance to 12-year education system spreading
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-08-14 07:00 PM
On Wednesday Mayor Eric Chu of New Taipei City joined the chorus of voices criticizing the nation’s recently-implemented 12-year compulsory education system. Chu said that the national educational system is moving in the wrong direction and announced that next year public and private high schools, middle schools and vocational schools in New Taipei City will not hold special enrollment tests for prospective students. He also declared that all examinations for high school and junior high school are to be finished by the end of June next year.

The recently-introduced 12-year system of compulsory education splits testing into entrance exams and enrollment exams, doubling the trouble for students, parents and test administrators alike. The system is confusing to many both inside and outside the school system, with a distracting array of different specifications that has many students and parents complaining. Mayor Chu attended a conference of public and private high school and junior high school principals on Wednesday where he specifically stated that the 12-year education system is going in the wrong direction. Some people insist that it is going in the right direction, said Chu, but New Taipei City will not be following them.

Chu announced that starting next year the New Taipei will forego the enrollment aspect of the exams so that students will be finished with testing by the end of June and will not have to hit the books all the way into August. He added that other changes need to be made, such as moving the essay part of the exams to the end of the session

Shortly after Chu announced that New Taipei City was opting out of the enrollment exams, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin – who like Chu is also a Vice-chairman of the KMT – called an emergency meeting of the Executive Yuan to discuss the New Taipei City decision.

Hau noted that the dual system of tests caused a great deal of confusion and consternation this year, and changes must be made to prevent this from happening again next year.

Later Wednesday, Executive Yuan spokesman Sun Lih-chyun said the Ministry of Education will meet first to take up the problem, and then decide whether to convene a meeting with officials from the Executive Yuan.

After Taipei and New Taipei expressed reservations about the 12-year system the leaders of other cities and counties also began to speak up. Taichung Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun said Taichung Second High School, Wen-hwa High School and other schools all had difficulty attracting enough students, saying “The exemption system is not exempt, and there is nothing special about the special admissions tests."

In the midst of the complaints and protests Deputy Minister of Education Chen Teh-hua came forward to say that Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa, who took office just a couple of weeks ago, will hold a meeting with experts and interested individuals to discuss how the system will be implemented next year. He said that at present the MOE is still very open-minded about the fate of the enrollment exams next year.

Some educators and scholars who were in on the planning of the 12-year education system have said that the original intent of the two-part examination arrangement was to put an emphasis on the exemption aspect of the process. The enrollment part was supposed to add optional and more interesting classes to the curriculum and help forge a new generation of thinkers and doers. It was designed to find groups of students with common interests and not simply to perpetuate conventional and outdated testing methods. The end result, many of them say, is not what planners had in mind at all.

The 12-year system has yielded little other than complaints since it was instituted at the start of the school year. The original plan to put more emphasis on exemptions was aimed at doing away with overly-stale tests and injecting more creativity into the school system, identifying students with special potential and talent as well as those who might be better off in community schools.

Given the end result, however, as Liu Hsin-hsu, Secretary-General of the National Teachers' Union griped, the 12-year education system is “nothing more than a bag of tricks that should be tossed out.”

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