In April this year, Deputy Minister of Education Fan Sun-Lu led a delegation of 38 recipients of an Outstanding Teacher's Award to Finland and Denmark to visit schools and tertiary institutions and hold in-depth discussions with high-ranking personnel of central and local education authorities.
The delegation first went to the city of Espoo in Finland and visited elementary and secondary schools to learn about the implementation and teaching of Finland’s new curriculum for compulsory education. They then went to Helsinki and met with Aapo Koukku, Counselor of Education at Finland’s National Board of Education, and Dr. Marjo Kyllonen, Head of the Department of Education in Helsinki, to learn more about the origin of phenomenon-based learning, the challenges encountered during its practical implementation, and related policies.
Deputy Minister Fan also met with high-ranking officials from the Secretariat for International Relations of Finland’s Ministry of Education and Culture and from the International Office of the University of Helsinki. They discussed future cooperation in the field of higher education and the possibility of suitably qualified language teachers from Taiwan teaching Chinese there.
The delegation then travelled to Denmark to visit Greve Gymnasium – a senior secondary school that prepares students for higher education – where they received an enthusiastic reception. The principal and teachers told them about the regular exchange visits between their students and Kaohsiung Municipal Senior High School and plans to continue their educational cooperation. The Outstanding Teacher Award winning teachers then shared details of their teaching experiences and Taiwan’s different education culture. They all expressed hope that opportunities for cooperation and mutual visits with Danish senior high schools will continue to increase.
Lee Shying-jow, the Representative at the Taipei Representative Office in Denmark accompanied Deputy Minister Fan on a visit at the Danish parliament to promote extending and deepening education diplomacy between Taiwan and Denmark. Many important parliamentarians they happened to meet commented positively about Taiwan's democratic development and progress, and each said that they hoped to have more opportunities to meet and engage in discussions with education officials from Taiwan in Denmark.
The Ministry of Education has established eight Education Divisions in Europe – at Taiwan’s diplomatic missions in Austria, the European Union (Belgium), France, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Russia, and the United Kingdom. On April 13, Deputy Minister Fan met with the eight directors of these Education Divisions in Copenhagen, the Danish capital, to brief them on the Ministry of Education's key current policies and discuss their work on furthering education exchanges and collaborations with Europe.
She pointed out that innovative education is thriving in Taiwan and is second to none. She cited the interdisciplinary studies incorporated into the new curricula for elementary and secondary schools, and the flourishing development of innovative teaching at institutions at all levels of education and a wide range of other related innovative initiatives from NGOs, such as ZASHARE, and makerspaces and education centers, where students engage in inquiry-based hands-on learning. All of this is worthy of being widely promoted to other countries, and Deputy Minister Fan expressed her hope that the Education Divisions in Europe will all engage in initiating international exchanges regarding these emerging approaches to education.
Educational cooperation and exchanges between Taiwan and countries in Europe continue to develop steadily, and to boost international understanding of Taiwan and enhance the global mobility of students in Taiwan, all the Education Divisions will actively work to set up more collaborative dual and even triple degree programs, and internship programs incorporating hands-on experience in industry settings. Furthermore, to fully and comprehensively implement international interaction and contact, elementary and secondary schools will also be assisted to engage in international education exchanges in accordance with Taiwan’s internationalization of school curricula.
The meeting also discussed how Taiwan can examine European strategies used to attract and retain highly skilled people, and strategies for encouraging more countries in Europe to introduce Mandarin Chinese programs, sending language teachers from Taiwan, and promoting Taiwan’s TOCFL proficiency tests, online learning, and teaching materials.
Deputy Minister Fan took the opportunity to thank the personnel at each Division in Europe for their hard work. She urged them all to strengthen their communications with each other and work together even more, to fully optimize their effectiveness and to be fully in step with the latest policy initiatives in Taiwan. Such a coordinated approach will help further deepen international education exchanges and collaborations between Taiwan and countries in Europe.