The HEAD Foundation (THF) held a workshop on 10 May 2016 with Professor Chuing Prudence Chou from the Department of Education at National Chengchi University (Taiwan), to exchange ideas on the nature of the Chinese education model with the THF team.
Professor Chou spoke at length on the unique traits of this system in Taiwan. She highlighted that education equity is highly regarded as an important systemic necessity. For instance, Taiwanese law prohibits the streaming of students according to abilities, and the government invests heavily in special education. However, despite the official emphasis on equity, the influence of cram schools and family socio-economic backgrounds remain a reality.
Professor Chou pointed out that the development of the educational model in Taiwan was significantly influenced by the island’s politics. The influence of Western ideas also played a part. For instance, its educational reform in the 1990s was heavily influenced by Western ideas but did not integrate sufficient consideration of the Taiwanese context and culture.
She observed that Taiwan has preserved much of the Chinese culture in aspects such as the regard for traditional writing forms, Confucian ethics and traditional Chinese values, which makes the Republic a much more culturally ‘Chinese’ society than even mainland China. Yet, its adoption of certain Western influences, such as ideas of individualism, have also resulted in Taiwan being more ‘Western’, say, in comparison with Singapore.
Thus, she underscored the need to consider a society’s prevailing culture in the development of an education system.
The THF team also discussed issues from the appeal of bilingualism in private and regular elite schools in Taiwan to the economic situation as a factor on job prospects. Professor Chou explained that while higher education was deemed a human right, little consideration was given to the job market, which worsened unemployment issues when Taiwanese industries migrated to other parts of Asia.