Taiwan’s reforms to education positioning the island nation on the world stage

The Taiwan education system produces students with some of the highest test scores in the world, with a near-perfect literacy rate of 98.70%.  Recent reforms now mandate a 12-year schooling period for the Taiwanese.



However, there’s concerns about emphasis being placed on memorisation and examination, instead of creativity.  This leads to graduates who test well but lack critical thinking required in the ‘real world.’

Ministry implementing decentralised curricula 

Taiwan’s Ministry of Education highlighted their vision to replace the right to an education with the right to learn, to place focus on citizens and to make education “learner-centred.”

As a response to the country’s low birth rate, Taiwan’s Ministry of Education announced in 2015 that they would be merging universities to better accommodate students who pursue higher education in the country.

They’re hoping an ‘exam-free pathway’ to high school will ease the pressure to continue their education.  These pathways encourage high schools to look at residency status, civic involvement, extracurricular activities and other factors when accepting students, rather than on test scores alone.  This will be pioneered by developing a Curriculum Development Education Committee.

The role of TVET in Taiwan

VET is well-represented in the education system, contributing to Taiwan’s economic prosperity. Vocational schools offer three years, with a heavier emphasis on practical and vocational skills, learning a single specialty.  It’s not uncommon for students to choose vocational education over high school and, consequently, university.

For the past eight years, the Government has pushed six emerging industries.  These include healthcare, biotechnology, sophisticated agriculture, tourism, cultural innovation, and green energy.

Smart industries have also been a focus, including cloud computing, intelligent electric cars, intelligent green buildings, and inventions and patents. Internationalising healthcare, innovation and venture capital, digital contents, and urban renewal are also hot topics.

TVET combined these efforts with all its resources to cultivate practical professionals according to their aptitudes and capabilities, so that once again TVET can contribute to the next wave of Taiwan’s evolution.

By 2023, the nation hopes to improve the country’s education with goals ‘to re-orient education toward positive social values, reshaping the education system into an effective mode, to reconstruct partnerships and to solidify learning scholarship.

A hub of innovation  

Taiwan ranks 15th in global competitiveness, 10th in innovation, and boasts one of the largest populations of engineers (software and hardware) in the world.  With the growing number of tech centres and start-up clusters in major cities, Taiwan is incubating a start-up ecosystem.  It’s also living up to being first in global expat rankings.

One Taiwanese start-up, SmatAll, has built the technology to control all household appliances and devices, from one computer.  The Government is committed to helping local entrepreneurs pursue their dreams, via the Taiwan Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre in Silicon Valley.  Sponsored by the state, its part of the nation’s new initiatives to grow exceptional talent.

Job card to help youth find employment

In May, Taiwan recorded a 3.7% unemployment rate.  And while this is quite a healthy number, young people (20-29 years) account for nearly 20% of that figure.  In a bid to help get more youth into jobs, the ministry will introduce an initiative, similar to Japan’s ‘job card system.

This will include incorporating career counselling and vocational training, as well as bridging the gap between young people and local businesses.  The card will let young people learn about and develop their marketable strengths, while also helping the ministry better understand the core reasons for long-term unemployment.

Taiwan is achieving economic change through its people and the numbers are adding up.  Today, the country’s college acceptance rate has risen to over 90%. Taiwan is a fast-growing economy that has shifted to more capital and technology-intensive industries. This small island has become a major start-up hub in Asia.

Interested in hearing about global TVET capability development opportunities? Contact Wendy Perry, via wendy@wb.switchstartscale.com.au.

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