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Taiwan - Preprimary & Primary Education

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceTaiwan - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education

PREPRIMARY & PRIMARY EDUCATION


Preprimary Education: The government of Taiwan has vaguely recognized the desire for early childhood education since 1902, but it was not until 1981 that an Early Childhood Education Law was finally enacted to develop kindergarten programs. Until quite recently, preprimary or kindergarten education in Taiwan was predominantly part of the private school system. As recently as 1968, private kindergartens outnumbered public ones by a 3 to 1 ratio. But today there is near-parity between the number of private and public kindergarten facilities. In 1998, there were 2,849 registered preschools (or kindergartens), compared to only 28 in the early 1950s.


Primary Education: Primary, or elementary, education consists most specifically of the six-year course of study for students aged 6 to 12. However the new "stage one/stage two" model also includes the three-year course of study for students aged 12 to 15, which is provided by the government free of charge. In conformance with the Compulsory Education Law regarding access to schools, nearly all of the elementary and junior high schools in Taiwan are public schools (2,540 elementary and 719 junior highs in 1997). Also in 1997, approximately 1.9 million students attended elementary school, resulting in an average of just over 750 students per school, and nearly 1.1 million students attended junior high school, resulting in an average of nearly 1,495 students per school.

One of the government's major concerns regarding primary education has been the goal of upgrading the qualifications of elementary school teachers. Until 1960, most teachers in primary education were products of three-year normal school programs. In that year, the three-year programs were expanded to five-year programs, with the institutions becoming designated as junior teachers' colleges. Then, in 1987, all nine of Taiwan's junior teachers' colleges were elevated to the status of four-year teachers' colleges. As such, they became accountable for developing strategies for upgrading the qualifications of currently working teachers who were trained in the past. These newly designated colleges generally contain a core of at least four departments: elementary education; language and literature education; science and mathematics education; and social science education. Among the additional special departments that can be represented are music, arts and crafts, physical education, and special education.

Recent reforms at the elementary school level have led to the introduction of new teaching methods, curricula, and textbooks, as well as to more liberal standards. For example, since 1996, the MOE has permitted elementary school administrators to select their own textbooks. Also, general Chinese history has been de-emphasized in favor of Taiwanese history and culture, as well as world history topics.


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