Newspaper article China Post

Students Face Uncertainty in New Education Program

Newspaper article China Post

Students Face Uncertainty in New Education Program

Article excerpt

Taiwan is set to implement its 12-year compulsory education program next year. While junior high school graduates next year are promised another three years of free education, uncertainty and an even more complicated form of senior high school admission process await them.

All through the years under the current nine-year compulsory education program, sixth-grade graduates have been assigned to junior high schools in their neighborhoods with their elementary school grades never taken into consideration in the placements.

After finishing the junior high education, they have had the choice of either dropping out, or competing for a place in senior high or vocational schools.

The 12-year compulsory education will deny graduates the alternative of dropping out, but they will still have to fight for a place where they continue their studies for three more years.

The admissions will not be location-based anymore. "Star" schools are not willing to accept whatever students there will be in their neighborhoods; students are still eager to get into these top schools, and do no think it fair if they are to be barred from them because of geographical factors.

So, there will still be an exam to determine the students' grades, which will determine their places for their last three years of the free education.

You may think that for such a major educational reform to be implemented next year, the government must have already laid out a sound plan.

In fact, there is still debate on how the students' exam results should be graded; namely how many levels there should be. The grading will affect the chances of students ending up in a tie and having to go through the next phase of evaluation where their performance in extracurricular activities - such as awards they have won in competitions - will determine the winner.

Different cities and counties have their own rules and emphases regarding what extracurricular activities count, and students going to the ninth grade following the summer break have little idea what they should do to boost their chances.

Some critics say the design is actually unfair to underprivileged students who - for instance - can't afford to learn to play the piano and therefore can never win a piano contest. …

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