Taiwan's Education System - Problems and How to Fix Them
Esther Hung, Division 3, College freshman #ws18e-s3d3

Among the things that people complain about, the education system is a contender to the throne. Some people might say that it is necessary for students to get an education; others may try to argue that school expands social circles, but none will try to pretend that any education system is perfect. Indeed, there are various ways and strategies that can be used to improve the education system.

In Taiwan's high schools, three problems come up most frequently. First is the lack of applicable knowledge being taught. Due to this, students are often forced to study subjects that are not relevant to their careers. For instance, they may be forced to calculate specific mathematical problems entirely by hand, even though in the work world, people use calculators and spreadsheets. Liberal arts students might find themselves being pushed to study chemistry and physics when they have no interest in the science field. Other students might even be forced to take up classes like the history of art or music to ensure they are not held back, whether or not they have any interest at all. This results in the students wasting time, energy, and resources for a class they are not fond of and would not help them in the future. Additionally, the knowledge acquired would quickly be forgotten after the final exam, rendering an entire year or couple of years of school useless.

Secondly, in Taiwan, the school hours are long as a result of an expansive curriculum. This situation forces Taiwanese students to take an average of fourteen subjects per semester or roughly eight hours of class every day. Due to the overwhelming curriculum and the lack of adequate teachers, many students find themselves turning to cram school for additional help, which leads to an extra four to six hours of private schooling every week. Many high schools also require a ""night study time,"" where the students have to stay at school for extra exams or to study until nine o'clock. This leads to students being exhausted, depressed, and having little or no time for extracurricular activities. Additionally, the students cease to have time to consider what they might want to do in the future.

Third of all, Taiwanese students also receive inadequate guidance from school. The counselors - academic advisors- provided are only responsible for ensuring students know how to perform well on college entrance exams. This is often ineffective considering most of the students fail to understand their future career aspirations. The counselors neglect to tell students how to pursue their ambitions: for example, they often do not inform the students of the possibility of enrolling in schools outside of the country, and even when they do, they provide little assistance.

Additionally, each counselor is responsible for roughly six classes of students, with anything between fifty to eighty students per class, rendering them incapable of giving their full attention to every student. Ultimately, with this kind of educational system students might end up with good grades, however, they fail to know what they want in the future, have almost no social life or understanding of the real world, and have no talents in anything other than studying. In this situation, Taiwanese high schools have failed to help students succeed in their primary objectives: to help students learn about themselves, the world, and what they want regarding future career goals.

To fix this flawed education system, I believe the most important thing is to address the root of the problem: the school curriculum. The extensive curriculum, while meant to be helpful, is the very thing that is harming the students. It leads to more extended hours of class, more subjects to learn, and less time for students to understand themselves. If I were given a chance to fix my school's educational system, I would first allow students to choose their classes and place a limit on the number of classes they are allowed to take per semester. This situation will not only let them pick classes they are interested in, but it will also train them to make their own choices and motivate them to start thinking about the future. Not only would this allow them to have a better grasp of their education, but they would also have a greater incentive to learn and understand potential career fields.

A change to the curriculum would also lessen the burden on teachers and counselors. Instead of having up to eighty students in the same class learning about things they may not necessarily be interested in, students are now spread out among the classes they have the incentive to perform well in. This situation would enable them to have a clearer idea of what they want and result in coherent questions and goals when asking their counselors for advice.

Secondly, I would have the classes focus on more hands-on or interactive knowledge. It is unnecessary for students to learn how to draw graphs by hand when there are devices invented for that purpose. Besides, it is not essential for students to learn about things such as Chinese proverbs and the invention of ink unless they are interested in such. Furthermore, I would have the teachers concentrate their teachings on the knowledge that would apply to the students' future careers. This change could be achieved through organized trips to financial facilities to understand how accountants and marketers work, or a day at a science laboratory to understand the application of recent scientific topics. I believe that these radical changes could be helpful and useful, and if not, then at the very least they should appeal to a number of students.

School is a wonderful place to learn. No one can deny the fact that school is a deciding factor regarding how students learn and helps them create a foundation for their future career aspirations. No education system is perfect, but with a bit of guidance, help, advice, and humility, it can be bettered to help students realize their dreams.
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