Taipei (AsiaNews) - "We are focused on doing our best to learn from other experiences both in Asia and in other continents, to constantly update, to take on the best young people who graduate in the top three universities, in particular to develop a curriculum of complete and creative studies of education in moral and spiritual values that can prepare our students for society and the labor market in the coming decades. As a Catholic school we feel privileged for the training that we can offer", says Professor Tsai (蔡校长), the new director of a leading private school in Taipei, speaking to AsiaNews on the sidelines of the school leaders meeting that takes place every year in October. Since last year compulsory education has increased from nine to twelve years, to keep up with international standards and the abundance of teachers in the face of a shortage of pupils.
"The national education system seeks to improve and copy the best ideas and the best curricular lessons, without distinguishing their origin or cultural context. For example, the fifty years of Japanese presence on the island until 1950, strongly influenced the serious approach to education, maintaining its best features. It is a source of pride for us Catholic educators to note that ' life education' classes (生命 教育) are an essential element in formal education, "says Professor Li (李 老师). Catholic schools also have a reputation for really taking care of students and are a source of security for parents.
Professor Tsai said that "the center for life education (生命 教育 中心) was born in the Catholic schools and was later adopted as a curriculum subject in all schools in Taiwan. I remember that in 2006 we were second in the world rankings to number of suicide among adolescents. The young people were crushed by pressure, lessons from morning to night, too many subjects to prepare for school exams, a rather dark vision of the future. "
Today the number of students attending classes remains unchanged, because every family wants the best education for their children, the teacher adds, but "we believe that the value of life linked to the Christian religion and its vision of faith have been accepted also by educators of other faiths and employees of the Ministry of Education. " This testifies to a "remarkable open-mindedness." The Christian contribution that led to the introduction of a subject called life' 'education is a source of happiness for having "made an important contribution to schools in Taiwan."
In addition to this, international openness and the teaching of foreign languages is certainly another feather in the cap of foreign schools, thanks to the contribution of fathers and nuns from abroad. Even today, the majority are mother tongue teachers, continuing the tradition begun over a century ago. Professor You (游 老师), a teacher at a technical school near Hsinchu, proudly states, "We were leaders on the island, our school was founded by a Canadian father who offered an evening school of mechanics to poor children in the parish. Taiwan was developing from an agricultural country into an industrial country. Our strength was mechanical and electrical engineering. Twenty-five years ago we developed computers, in twenty kilometers from here they build semiconductors for 90% of laptops worldwide. Now we are finding it difficult to attract students, because the numbers of students are dropping and each school has a very high level of education, the competition level has risen. "
The main factor, however, concerns the demographic variable: the number of pupils is falling rapidly, and the second part of the meeting of school presidents focused on future statistics. The numbers provided by the government do not lie: Based on births in recent years, in ten years the high schools in the north of the island (in 2022) will have less than half of current students (now 79 thousand in 2022 they will be little more than 42 thousand).
For this reason each school principle is called to find the best solutions, because of the many institutions only the best will survive. "Unless there is a sudden new wave of immigration with many children or an impromptu increase in births, we can not see a positive outcome, only a selection of the best and, despite the generational decline of students, as Catholics we are pleased to be among those that contribute to the enrichment of education in schools in Taiwan, "says Professor You.
To date, the total number of Catholic schools is 48, while the total number of secondary schools (adding public and private) is 740 and 2658.elementary schools, which are present even in the smallest villages.