Response to Topic of International Day of Education: Learning for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace Ministry of Education Promotes Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education Pathways Toward Sustainable Development
In support of the International Day of Education, the theme this year is 'Learning for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace'. The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced a news release on January 22, emphasizing that the MOE will promote inclusive and equitable quality education to boost the education pathways of the Republic of China (ROC) (Taiwan) toward sustainable development.
The International Day of Education originated from the 44th plenary meeting of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly 73rd session in December 2018, which designated January 24 each year as 'International Day of Education'. The theme set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) of 2019 is to emphasize the different functions and comprehensiveness of 'Education' in the four major directions of People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace. Starting from 'People', education will help all people develop their talents fully and realize their potential, including responsibility for their own lives and the capacity to contribute to society. Especially in the face of climate and environmental changes, we need to reshape a sustainable development thinking and model for the ‘Planet’ that allows humans to live in greater harmony with the natural world.
Meanwhile, UNESCO indicates that education also includes vocational skills development. In the long term, promoting education can effectively improve the world's poverty problem and bring 'Prosperity'. In addition, education is a condition for political participation and democracy, and when access to it is truly equitable, education will assist in building a society of 'Peace'.
The UN announced 17 goals of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on December 25, 2015. The fourth goal is 'Quality Education' and its aim is to ensure: 1. In teaching, there should be no distinction of class. 2. Quality education needs to be inclusive and equitable. 3. Lifelong learning for all. The MOE indicates that how to promote 'Quality Education' has always been the focus of the MOE, in order to provide inclusive, equitable, and high-quality education, and develop Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Article 4 of the ROC's (Taiwan's) Educational Fundamental Act officially proclaims: 'All people, regardless of their sexes, ages, abilities, geographic locality, ethnic groups, religious beliefs or political ideas, social or economic standings or other conditions, have equal opportunity for receiving education. Special protection on the education for indigenous peoples, the physically or mentally challenged or other disadvantaged groups shall be provided with considerations of their autonomy and special characteristics in accordance with relevant laws and regulations to support their development'. This fully demonstrates the persistence of fairness and justice in educational opportunities, and the promotion of the Curriculum Guidelines of 12-Year Basic Education is designed to nurture students by their nature so that they may achieve their goals under the concepts of taking initiative, engaging in interaction, and seeking the common good.
Since 2006, 15-year-old students in the ROC (Taiwan) have participated in the international evaluation results of the 'Programme for International Student Assessment'(PISA), conducting an international assessment study on Mathematics, Science and Reading Literacy to examine students' ability to apply the acquired knowledge to life and solve genuine problems. According to the survey of 'Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development' (OECD), the overall achievements of ROC (Taiwan) over the years are more outstanding than 70 other countries, and the global rankings for Mathematics and Science have been among the best. This demonstrates that the achievements of the ROC's (Taiwan's) quality education have a certain foundation.
After the Executive Yuan approved and announced the Sustainable Development Goals of Taiwan, the MOE dedicated itself to providing inclusive and equitable quality education and developing ESD. Thus, first, the MOE attaches great importance to: the implementation of quality of childcare and basic education in primary and junior high schools, ensuring students gain basic competence, helping adaptive development of junior high school students, providing affordable high-quality education opportunities for higher education, enhancing youth employment development and lifelong learning capabilities, strengthening information communication skills, and ensuring that persons with disabilities, disadvantaged children and indigenous people receive education at all stages. This is the educational function corresponding to the 'People' and 'Prosperity' of the International Day of Education.
Secondly, the implementation of University Social Responsibility Plan, Middle-term Plan for Human Rights and Civic Education, requires the incorporation of civic education, gender equality education and environmental education into various courses, and continuously unblocking channels of students and public affairs that enact the meaning of ESD, in order to reshape sustainable development thinking and a model for the 'Planet' that allows humans to live in greater harmony with the natural world, which will also be conducive to building a 'Peaceful' society as well.
Facing the international call that climate change has been upgraded to a climate emergency in recent years, sustainable development will focus attention on the three aspects of promoting society, environment and economy. It is also the most appropriate solution to the impact of extreme weather events. Since Taiwan is located in a region with high climate risks, the MOE will strengthen the main concepts of education on the 17 SDGs and integrate them into teaching activities in various fields by promoting the Curriculum Guidelines of 12-Year Basic Education. Thus, by taking Quality Education as the core and effectively linking closely related respective goals it can fully care for the issues of 'People', 'Planet', 'Prosperity' and 'Peace' and implement ESD.
With the purpose of highlighting the theme of the International Day of Education this year and the importance that is attached to SDGs, the MOE indicated in particular that education is the most important foundation for the maintenance and development of society. In order to provide inclusive, equitable, and high-quality education opportunities and promote ESD, the ROC (Taiwan) has established a good foundation in terms of law and policy implementation and has produced outstanding achievements. Facing the impact of the current climate emergency, developed countries around the world have expeditiously launched carbon trade, corporate social responsibility and other political and economic systems to correspond to low-carbon and sustainable environmental protection actions with economic and social forces: climate action is in full swing! The ROC (Taiwan) is dedicated to promoting SDGs and education is the first priority.
The MOE encourages schools at all levels to connect campus hardware, software and courses to the SDGs to deepen the link between the ROC (Taiwan) and international development trends, and expects that all county and city government education departments will actively promote SDGs in the future, so that the ROC's (Taiwan's) SDGs can be implemented due to the quality education in schools.