2005 UMAP Board Meeting
March 4, 2005
National Taiwan University
Minister Tu Cheng-sheng, Ministry of Education
Dr. Nakajima, Dr. Okawa, Dr. Chen, distinguished guests,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today, addressing the first board meeting of UMAP to be held in Taiwan.
First, I would like to extend a very warm welcome to the board members, who are visiting us as distinguished representatives of the higher education sector in the Asia-Pacific Region. On behalf of Taiwan's Ministry of Education, I wish you every success in your deliberations today.
I would also like to express my gratitude to you for selecting Taiwan to chair UMAP in the coming two years. With Dr. Chen at the helm, we will certainly do our very best to live up to the great honor you have accorded us.
We live in exciting and challenging times for this part of the world. The latter half of the 20th century has seen the impressive growth of the Asia-Pacific region in terms of its technology, communications, economic development and human endeavor. As a historian, I have been fascinated to see the world's geopolitical center shifting westwards, to reach - as has been suggested - East Asia, during the course of this century. Be that as it may, there can be no doubt that our region currently enjoys a prominence readily measurable on any number of business or social scales.
We need to ensure that progress in education and culture not only keeps pace with the rapid expansion of our region, but leads the way, fueling growth here and throughout the world. Globalization, already a byword in political and economic circles, now finds its way into the academic arena, presenting us with a multitude of opportunities for cross-cultural educational advancement. We can foresee:
- the continuing development of international academic exchanges
- the progressive nurturing of mutual understanding between different societies and cultures
- and the growing trend for a truly global outlook and competence among our citizens.
And it is international organizations like UMAP that are at the forefront of this movement for the globalization of education. That is why it gives me so much pleasure to have this opportunity to endorse the significant results that UMAP is achieving.
Let me now share with you some of the educational initiatives which Taiwan is putting into effect in order to modernize and improve our education system. We call it our "success for all" approach and it is built on four platforms.
First, we are striving to better prepare our people for life on this planet in the 21st century. To meet the needs of the future, we aim to strengthen the nation's foreign language proficiency, build a digitized study environment and encourage academic diversity.
Our second platform is based on the concept of offering equal education opportunities for all. This entails a proactive approach to assisting disadvantaged students from a social, economic, cultural or educational standpoint in order to avoid a "learning gap". Policies are in effect to reduce regional disparities, boost moral education and assist minorities to gain access to education.
Thirdly, we focus on Taiwan: our home. It is essential that we recognize and enhance Taiwan's unique characteristics, rejoice in our cultural diversity and generate a sense of national identity.
The fourth area we have identified for policy development and action in our new educational blueprint for Taiwan is the one which is uppermost in our minds today: internationalization. Specific strategies we are implementing to create a greater sense of global vision include:
- introducing international concepts in middle school and above
- promoting the integration of economic development and international trends
- aspiring to world-class research and teaching
- and increasing student exchanges.
I would like to mention that we already have international student programs in operation. Currently, about 2,000 foreign students are enrolled in tertiary education centers in Taiwan and we aim to increase this number to 13,000 by the year 2012. To assist students in pursuing higher education in Taiwan, we are increasing the number of courses taught in English, setting up education information centers around the world and offering scholarships to foreign students.
Similarly, we encourage our students to seek advanced learning opportunities overseas. In 2,004, over 30,000 Taiwanese students applied to study in universities and colleges in other countries. The Ministry of Education offers assistance to these students in the form of loans and scholarships.
Increasing student exchanges is also, I know, an essential element of UMAP's valuable work and is promoted through the UCTS system. Taiwan has already taken its first step under the UCTS and is actively expending its role through the establishment of a scholarship program to foster such international ties. I understand this will be one of your items for discussion today and we welcome your comments and suggestions on our proposal.
In conclusion, it seems to me that we can learn much from UMAP. This forum brings a refreshingly new and eminently realistic approach to the issue of globalized education. You reinforce our belief that we can make a difference to people's lives through the power of education... here in Taiwan and throughout the world.
Once again, I would like to offer you my thanks and my encouragement, and I look forward to meeting you all again in Taipei next year.