The Implementation of Nine-Year Compulsory Education
In the period just after the government moved to Taiwan in 1949, compulsory education was limited to primary school, consisting of 6 years of school. Since education plays an important role in national development, and with the goal of eliminating student pressure to enter schools, 9-year compulsory education was initiated in 1968. In the initial stage of the promotion, there was a focus on establishing schools, increasing classes, cultivating teachers, and enhancing student acceptance rates. In 1982, the president announced the Compulsory Education Act, which led our nation past a new milestone of a 9-year compulsory education system.
The Promotion of Compulsory Education Development Projects
Since the implementation of the 9-year compulsory education system in 1968, the Ministry of Education has continuously carried out numerous compulsory education development projects to fortify the physical construction of, and related frameworks necessary for, each project. First was Session 1 of the Three-Year Project to Implement Nine-Year Compulsory Education (1967-1971). From then on, the following projects were implemented in succession:
- Session 2 of the Three-Year Project to Implement Nine-Year Compulsory Education (1972-1974)
- The Five-year Improvement and Development Project of Compulsory Education (1977-1981)
- The Six-year Improvement and Development Project of Compulsory Education (1983-1988)
- Session 2 of the Improvement and Development Project of Compulsory Education (1989-1992)
- The School Development Project (1993-1994)
- Primary and Junior High School Educational Facility Refurbishment Project (1995-2000)
- The Acceleration of Old School House Reinforcement and Refurbishment of Primary and Junior High Schools Subproject under the Revitalization of the Economy and Expansion of Public Construction Investment Project (2009-2011)
- The School House Earthquake-Resistant Evaluation, Reinforcement and Architectural Construction, and Facility Improvement in Primary and Junior High Schools Project of the year 2012
- The School House Earthquake-Resistant Evaluation, Reinforcement and Architectural Construction, and Facility Improvement in Primary and Junior High Schools Subsidy Project from 2013-2016
- The School House Earthquake-Resistant and Architectural Construction and Facility Improvement in Public Primary and Junior High Schools Project from 2017-2019.
Since 1996, the Ministry of Education has continuously promoted the Educational Priority Areas Project, proactively providing disadvantaged schools with positive assistance in the form of additional resources, to realize the ideal of attaining equal opportunities in education.
To elaborate on the various capacities, individualized nature, adaptive spirit, and functions of small class teaching, and thus to enhance the teaching quality, the Lowering of Student Numbers in Primary and Junior High School Classes Project was set in place in 1998. Each year the total student numbers in each class were gradually decreased to 35 students in primary schools during the period of the academic years 87-92. Similarly, each year the total student numbers in each class were gradually decreased to 38 in junior high schools during the period of the academic years 91-93; and by the academic year 96, the total student numbers in each class were decreased to 35.
The Decrease of Student Numbers in Primary School Classes Program was established and carried out in the academic year 96, when the total student numbers in each class was set at 32 students, starting from grade one. In each following year, the total student numbers in each class was reduced by one, so that by the academic year 99, the total student numbers in each class had decreased to 29. In addition, small-scale primary schools with less than 9 classes, and also containing less than 51 students were offered an increase of one teacher.
The Refining Compulsory Education in Junior High Schools Program was implemented in the academic year 98. In this year, starting from grade one of junior high schools, the class size was limited to 34 students per class. In each following year, the total student numbers in each class were reduced by one, so that by the academic year 102, the total student numbers in each class had decreased to 30. In addition, junior high schools which had more than 21 classes were offered an increase of one full-time teacher counselor.
To assist each city or county government in implementing both the Criteria and regulations for class size and staffing in Primary and Junior High Schools, and to respond to the urgent requirement to reach a balance between the optimal total class numbers for student learning and each teacher’s total teaching number of classes, the following measures were adopted: to increase the average number of 1.65 teachers per class to a higher number, and also to raise the number of substitute teachers. These measures also resolved the issues pertaining to insufficient human resources and excessive number of substitute teachers in small-scale schools located in remote areas. The Junior High School 1,000 Project was widely implemented in the academic year 106. The total teacher number was increased by adding an additional 1,000 teachers in public junior high schools and by adding 1 to 2 teachers to public junior high schools which had less than 36 classes. In this way, the likelihood of teachers teaching subjects related to their expertise was increased. Through the Combination of Cross-School Teacher Resources Recruitment System, the objective of teachers teaching subjects related to their specialization was achieved.
The Implementation of Curriculum Reform
Before the year 2000, compulsory education courses in our nation were applied in accordance with the regulations of the curriculum standards and were revised several times. In December 1996, the Education Reform Advisory Committee of the Executive Yuan announced the Consultants’ Concluding Report on Education Reform. Following the advice outlined in this report, the Ministry of Education first finalized Grade 1-9 Curriculum Guidelines and established the 7 learning areas and the curriculum framework. It was decided that 4 years was the period of operation, and that the Grade 1-9 Curriculum Guidelines were to be gradually introduced beginning in the academic year 90. Hence, the Temporary Grade 1-9 Curriculum Guidelines were announced in November 2003, including the curriculum guidelines for all learning areas. These curriculum guidelines replaced the previous curriculum standards and marked a significant change in the form and substance of the courses regulated by our nation. To respond to the implementation of the 12-Year Basic Education system, the Ministry of Education announced the General Guidelines of the Curriculum Guidelines of 12-Year Basic Education , to be organized in unity with courses in primary, junior, and senior high schools.
The Introduction of Foreign English Teachers to Teach in Primary Schools
To fortify the human resources required for English teachers in remote schools, to provide students with a spontaneous and effective English learning environment, and to also promote the policy of English education extension down to grade three in primary schools since the academic year 94, the Ministry of Education assisted in introducing the first batch of foreign English teachers to teach in primary and junior high schools in October 2004. There have been more than 1,096 foreign English teachers teaching in total from 2004 to 2018. The introduction of foreign teachers will continue in August every year, to maintain a stable supply of the human resources necessary for English education each new semester.
The Promotion of the Program to Implement Remedial Education in Primary and Junior High Schools
To eliminate the learning gap, in 2013, the Ministry of Education combined the following two projects: Educational Priority Areas Project: Learning Guidance; and the Hand in Hand Project: After School Assistance and re-named this new entity: Remedial Education in Primary and Junior High Schools Implementation Program. Defining students by their needs was eliminated. Students who did not pass the selection exam for remedial education could participate in this program. Schools may plan remedial education courses for each subject, pertaining to each student’s learning conditions and requirements. Through adaptive instruction and small-class sizes, students are offered early, timely, stable and consecutive learning support resources. Consequently, students can regain their confidence. The learning gap between peers can be reduced; their basic academic competence can be ensured.
The Promotion of the Project of Students’ Mastery of Learning at Compulsory Education Stage
To realize the vision of seeing every child make progress, the Students’ Mastery of Learning at the Compulsory Education Stage Project was promoted in 2015, and included the following dimensions: supervision and early improvement of student academic competence, student adaptive learning and diverse development, strengthening teachers’ professional knowledge, innovative measures in experimental education, developing teacher passion, and maintaining volunteers for education services. Through the promotion and operation of the following three programs, the foundation of student academics aims to be established: the Foundation of Program on Tool Subject Learning, the Student Learning Support Program, and the Teacher Professional Advancement Program. Through these programs, basic student academic competence and the development of diverse student competencies can be ensured.
The Establishment of Three Comprehensive Laws of Experimental Education
In November 2014, three laws regarding experimental education were set in place: the Enforcement Act for Non-School-Based Experimental Education at the Senior High School Level or Below, the Enforcement Act for School-based Experimental Education, and the Act Governing the Commission of the Operation of Public Elementary and Junior Secondary Schools in the Private Sector. All these laws seek to inspire both the government and private sector to carry out experimental education as outlined in the Education Fundamental Act . In addition, and in order to provide a friendly development surrounding experimental education, and the extension of the school-based experimental education in senior high schools or higher school level, the three laws of experimental education were revised in 2016. On January 31, 2018, the president announced the three revised laws: the Enforcement Act for Non-School-Based Experimental Education at the Senior High School Level or Below, the Enforcement Act for School-based Experimental Education, and the Act Governing the Commissioning of the Operation of Public Schools at Senior High School Level or Below to the Private Sector for Experimental Education. By revising these laws, it is hoped that the requirements of teaching scenarios and the goal of reaching sustainable development of experimental education can be achieved.
The Establishment of Laws to Ensure Sustainable Development of Schools in Remote Areas
On December 6, 2017, the Act for Education Development of Schools in Remote Areas was announced. Through measures such as: the strengthening of educational measures of schools in remote areas, the expansion of the school budget, the flexible use of personnel, and the increasing welfare for teachers, educational rights for students of schools in remote areas can be ensured. Following Article 4 of this Act, the Ministry of Education has redefined the categories of schools in remote areas in the academic year 107. For undertaking the regulations outlined in this Article and assisting the development of schools located in detached areas (defined as places detached from developed areas), the Ministry of Education Operational Directions to Provide Subsidies to Schools in Remote and Detached Areas as an Educational Budget was established. The aforementioned operation directions aim to assist schools, municipalities, city or county governments to develop according to their own requirements and needs, and to organize the provision of related activities and resources for students and teachers. Additionally, the measure of simplifying the administrative procedures for subsidy applications is undertaken. It is hoped that difficulties in school operations can be resolved; and that school-based development and schools’ sustainable development can be uplifted, and to finally achieve the objective of erasing the educational gap between cities, counties, remote and detached areas.