Minister respects local governments on high school admissions system
Central News Agency
2014-08-17 10:14 PM
Taipei, Aug. 17 (CNA) Education Minister Wu Se-hwa said Sunday he respected any decisions made by local governments on the controversial high school admissions examination system. Wu met with heads of city and county governments around Taiwan to discuss the system, which is part of President Ma Ying-jeou's 12-year national education policy. The system, which began in June, features a national examination aimed at determining students' academic proficiency and a second special entrance exam along with complicated rules for students to select their preferred high schools. It was widely criticized by parents in the wake of the first national exam, which created widespread confusion over the scoring system and the implication of different grades for which high schools their children could select. The system has also drawn criticisms of Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin and New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu. Chu fired the first shots at the system last Thursday, announcing that his city would scrap the special entrance exam beginning next year in a bold departure from central government policy. Chu, an influential figure in the ruling Kuomintang, lashed out at the much maligned new system, describing it as erratic and crediting it with causing "great misery" for students and parents. The system has left many frustrated due to confusing rules for students to select their preferred high schools. In the Greater Taipei area, criticisms also focused on the weight given to the essay portion of the June entrance exam. If high school applicants are not accepted by their first-choice schools after the test, they can take the special entrance exam that emphasizes certain subjects for a second crack at the most exclusive schools. A third chance at selection allows students still unhappy with their options to draw up a new list of preferred schools based on the scores from the original entrance exam. But by the time all of this is finished, the process can take as long as two months. At the Sunday meeting, Wu admitted the admission process should be shorter to relax students and their parents from the stress over not knowing which school they can apply for and be enrolled. Wu's ministry presented several possible ways at the event to improve the controversial system, which include a "one exam, two usages" proposal, which emphasizes that there will be only one exam held with the scores used as the enrollment gauge in various ways. The proposal, however, received various different definitions by education officials and some city and county administrators who attended the meeting. (By Hsu Chih-wei, Kun Chuan and Elizabeth Hsu)
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