Students coming out of Taiwan have routinely placed high on international test scores. However, a common concern about this region of the world is that there is too much emphasis on memorization and examination, stifling students’ creativity to create graduates who can test well but lack the critical thinking necessary for many of the world’s jobs.
The Ministry of Education in Taiwan has tackled this concern with a variety of reforms. Here are 10 reforms that have been implemented in the past decade to improve education in Taiwan:
- Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, which oversees education in Taiwan, stated that their goal is to replace the right to an education with the right to learn, to place focus on citizens and to make education “learner-centered.”
- As a response to the country’s low birth rate, Taiwan’s Ministry of Education announced in 2015 that they would be merging universities to better accommodate students who pursue higher education in the country.
- In 2009, Taiwan introduced a new reading program called “Happy Reading 101,” which increased the amount of time allocated for reading in schools, expanded elementary and junior high libraries and encouraged schools to promote reading-friendly activities. After the implementation, Taiwan improved its reading performance on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), jumping from 23rd in 2009 to 4th in 2012.
- To place less pressure on students hoping to continue their education, Taiwan’s Ministry of Education began promoting an “exam-free pathway” to high school. This pathway encourages high schools to look at residency status, civic involvement, extracurricular activities and other factors when accepting students, rather than on test scores alone.
- Education in Taiwan now focuses on implementing decentralized curricula to better serve students, with many schools developing Curriculum Development Education Committees to make education student-centered.
- In 2014, the Ministry of Education added three years of mandatory schooling to be completed after junior high. The implementation of compulsory secondary education ensures that each student is prepared for their next step in life, be it the vocational or academic track.
- According to World Education News and Reviews, arts education in Taiwan is now available to all students, with classes such as music and fine arts being added to the curriculum.
- Taiwan has made improvements to schools’ vocational education and training (VET) programs, which help prepare students who choose the vocational track in high school for their career goals.
- Taiwan’s Ministry of Education supported e-learning and began encouraging schools to prepare students for a technological world in 2014.
- In 2015, the Ministry of Education cut the application process for high school in half and began requiring high schools to admit at least 50 percent of students based on results of the Comprehensive Assessment Program. The Ministry hopes this reform will place less stress on students as they apply to secondary schooling.
Though these reforms are relatively new to the system of education in Taiwan, the country has already seen improvement. More students have become enrolled in higher education institutions and been given more opportunities to continue their education. In fact, the Ministry of Education reports that the college acceptance rate has steadily risen from 20 percent in the 1970s to over 90 percent as of 2012. Also, according to World Education News and Reviews, the literacy rate in Taiwan has steadily increased throughout the years, going from 86 percent in 1998 to 98.5 percent as of 2014.
Taiwan only hopes to improve the country’s education with goals “to re-orient education toward positive social values, to reshape the education system into an effective model, to reset reasonable resources, to reconstruct partnerships and to solidify learning scholarship” between now and 2023.
– Jacqueline Artz