If we can renew ourselves, let us do so from day to day,
yea, let there be daily renewal;
The Chou Dynasty was an old nation,
but its leader built a new state.
We too should try to renew ourselves as far as we can.
(Explanation of ‘improvement of people’ in Great Learning edited by Hsieh, Lee, Lai and Chen 1993:5)
On 23 March 1996 the people of the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan voted to choose their first ever directly elected president. This first ever popular selection of a national leader in China’s 5,000 year history, along with three sets of military exercises by mainland China, and the presence of two American aircraft carriers, all contributed to placing Taiwan in the global spotlight.
These events reflected the politically changed context in which education has been developed in Taiwan during the past forty-six years. After the communists took over the mainland in 1949, the national government of ROC shifted to Taiwan, and Taiwan became culturally and educationally an immigrant society as well as a politically closed one. This was especially the case during the phase from 1949 to 1978 when there was a military confrontation between Taiwan and mainland China (Hu 1992b:26).