To promote the robust development of Taiwan’s community colleges, the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) recently submitted the draft bill of the Community College Development Act and drafts of corresponding amendments to the Lifelong Learning Act for legislative review. The Act and the amendments were passed by the Legislature on the third and final reading on 18 May 2018 and were promulgated today by President Tsai Ing-wen. Taiwan’s community colleges have already had 20 years of development but this new Act gives them a more clearly defined legal status. This and the systematization resulting from bringing community colleges within a regulatory framework will facilitate their stable operations, and this in turn will provide more comprehensive support to Taiwan’s lifelong learning system.
In addition, the Community College Development Act promulgated by the President delegates the central and local competent authorities to assist community colleges to resolve difficulties such as finding venues for their operations, and lack of operating funds. Following the Act’s promulgation and enforcement, the central and local competent authorities will now work together with community colleges to improve the operations and conditions.
The Act contains 17 articles. A summary of its key provisions is set out below:
1. General principles: These specify the legislative purpose of the Act (Article 1), the competent authorities (Article 2), and define the term ‘community college’ (Article 3).
2. Responsibilities and jurisdiction of the local competent authorities: specific factors to be taken into consideration for the establishment of community colleges (Article 4); ensuring that community colleges do not impose educational background or nationality requirements when they recruit students (Article 5); the methods of operations of community colleges (Article 6); assisting community colleges to find office and teaching space (Article 7); allocating generous budgetary funding (Article 8); encouraging community colleges to offer teaching in remote areas (Article 9); conducting regular assessments, and the key assessment items (Article 10); community colleges may issue certifications that students have reached a certain level in their studies and local competent authorities may then issue certificates of achievement (Article 11); formulate autonomous ordinances governing major community college matters (Article 12); and the setting up of community college review committees Article 13).
3. Responsibilities and jurisdiction of the central competent authority: formulating standards governing the eligibility criteria for the issuing of certificates of achievement, and related matters (Article 11); and providing subsidies and incentives for community colleges (Article 14). It may also reward local governments that have performed well handling community college related work (Article 15); and may regularly commission research addressing community colleges’ operations, results, and development policies, to boost the sound development of community colleges (Article 16).
The Ministry of Education anticipates that Taiwan’s community colleges will improve the public’s modern civil literacy and enhance their ability to participate in public affairs. Their other operational goals include assisting with the promotion of local public affairs, strengthening people’s sense of local identity and regional vitalization, equipping local people with knowledge and skills, developing local culture and local knowledge, and promoting sustainable community development. As well as providing access to lifelong learning, an equally important role of community colleges is to work with both public and private sector agencies to promote local cultural governance. The various systems that will be put into place now that the Act has come into force are designed to ensure that Taiwan’s 87 community colleges can create stress-free learning environments and attract people to enrol. The Act also clearly states that in future, certificates of achievement may be issued to community college students who reach a certain level in their studies, in accordance with regulations to be set by the local competent authorities. This will help enhance positive attitudes towards lifelong learning in Taiwan and the robust development of Taiwan’s lifelong education system.
The Ministry of Education has given a firm commitment that all related subsidiary legislation will be completed as rapidly as possible now that the Act has been promulgated. It will also oversee local governments as they immediately set about the legislative tasks of formulating and/or amending community college related local regulations, to bring about the good intentions behind the Community College Development Act.