not slogans, is what we need
President Ma Ying-jeou¡¦s (°¨^¤E) administration is good at forming policies and
creating project plans, despite its poor record of implementation. In one of the
latest project proposals, the Ministry of Education on Wednesday presented a
white paper on talent cultivation, which outlines a 10-year plan on cultivating
talent and improving the quality of education with an aim of turning Taiwan into
a higher-education center in the Asia-Pacific region. The plans include an
investment of NT$41 billion (US$1.3 billion) over the next three years to
increase the number of public kindergartens to 100 in five years, enhance
training in vocational schools, attract more foreign students and encourage
Taiwanese students to study abroad.
Most of the paper¡¦s plans were previously mentioned in Ma¡¦s education policies
when he took office in 2008. The government has for a while now been seeking to
enhance training in vocational schools and promote cooperation between schools
and industry to raise the employment rate.
Apart from these old policies, the white paper, which is the result of 10 months
of discussion among academics and experts, also included some slogans often seen
in the policies of the Ma administration. It promised to provide Taiwanese
students with ¡§six key powers¡¨: ¡§Global movement¡¨ (foreign language ability,
international perspective and willingness to travel); the ability to get a job;
the ability to solve problems; innovation; ¡§cross-field power¡¨ (the ability to
use information tools); and the initiative to participate in social activities
and promote public interests.
The ¡§six key powers¡¨ promise that characterizes the latest education policy is
reminiscent of the ¡§6-3-3¡¨ policy Ma laid out in his 2008 election campaign. The
numbers in the title referred to Ma¡¦s promise to attain an economic growth rate
of 6 percent, bring the unemployment rate down to less than 3 percent and
increase per capita income to US$30,000 by 2012.
Ma has failed to carry out the ¡§6-3-3¡¨ economic policy, and the slogan now
symbolizes broken promises and poorly executed policies under his
With lots of slogans, outlines and promises, the education ministry¡¦s white
paper on talent cultivation could end up being yet another failed Ma
The NT$41 billion investment in talent cultivation will be used mainly to
implement existing education plans. There are no innovative policies in the
white paper, and no new resources are assigned to higher education, despite Ma¡¦s
pledge to make Taiwan a higher education center in the Asia-Pacific region.
According to the latest report from the National Science Council, Taiwan is
likely to face a talent deficit within the next 10 years due to low fertility
rates, a reduction in doctoral program application rates and an increase in
The widening gap between supply and demand for talented individuals with higher
education degrees is a major reason behind the low doctoral program application
rates, and the ministry¡¦s solution is to set up professional tracks for masters
degree programs and enhance professional-oriented courses in colleges.
The solution may solve the issue in the short term, but the ministry is risking
turning universities into occupational training centers while ignoring the
purpose of higher education in the long run.
Rather than an empty promise of building up Taiwan as a higher education center
in Asia, the government should offer a national vision for education and focus
its efforts to implement the plans.
The people in Taiwan do not need more policy plans or promises from the Ma
administration. Better execution of policies and administrative effectiveness
are what we want from the government.