Improvement of Learning Environments in Senior and Vocational High Schools
The policy of the Ministry of Education to improve senior and vocational high schools has gradually borne fruit and, as a result, more and more junior high graduates with outstanding academic achievement choose to go to a community senior high school close to their homes. The competitiveness of students who have chosen community senior high schools over star senior high schools has not dropped as a consequence of their options. On the contrary, they have better performance due to quality learning environments and attentive teachers.
The 12-year mandatory education policy is a significant educational reform for Taiwan. It concerns individual development as well as national competitiveness. The Ministry of Education has formulated 13 sub-plans and 22 projects to establish the foundations for the overall progress of 12-year mandatory education step by step. Among them, "improvement of senior and vocation high schools" is aimed to upgrade the quality of senior and vocational high school education to prepare for 12-year mandatory education in the near future.
A subsidization project for improvement of senior and vocational high school education is an important complementary measure for promotion of 12-year mandatory education. The objective is to enforce aptitude-oriented learning, balance development of high schools in different areas, encourage students to go to schools near their homes, reduce the urban-rural gap, and relieve students' study pressure. Funds will be distributed for improvement of software and hardware and enhancement of the quality of teaching in senior and vocational high schools, so that community senior high schools can also have good learning environments. Students will be encouraged to choose community schools instead of taking the trouble of commuting to school.
The School Actualization Program project was first tested in the 2006 school year. In the 2007 and 2008 school years it was reinforced and continued. Currently there are 107 schools receiving funding under this program. The progress achieved by the 66 schools subsidized in the 2007 school year showed as many as 98% of all the schools identified with the goal of the policy. The ideal of going to a school nearby may not be achieved immediately but most funded senior high schools have concurred that, in the 2008 school year, the numbers of academically outstanding students who opted to attend a school close by and those who entered universities through the Stars Program have been increasing. In addition, students with learning disadvantages have also received better counseling and more assistance as a result of the funding and they now have opportunities to pursue further education.
The initial results of funding for the Senior and Vocation High School Improvement Project have won recognition from teachers, students and parents. In due time, the line between traditional star schools and regular schools should become less and less obvious. Students will not have as much study pressure and the goal of raising the quality of education in every school will eventually be accomplished.