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Mayor Attends Secondary School Principal’s Meeting

Mayor Ko speaking at the meeting of school principals Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-Je attended the principal’s meeting on February 6. During his speech, he shared his experience from his recent visit to Europe; he commented that it is imperative to market Taiwan globally and introduce international perspectives to the country, a belief that he holds dear. He also instructed the Department of Education (DOE) to reinforce international education so that senior high school students will have more opportunities to interact with foreign students, and therefore the DOE and Department of Information and Tourism (TPEDOIT) can collaborate on a project-by-project basis. For example, a Czech mayor once visited Taiwan to learn from our experiences, and he was impressed with the country’s achievements, thereby indirectly facilitating the sister city bond between Czech Republic and Taipei City.

Ko also mentioned that Taipei City has launched international exchange and diploma accreditation policies, and he encourages principals to reach out to the world and enhance the bilingual education environment at their schools in order to let pupils keep up with international developments. As far as smart education is concerned, he has witnessed Estonia’s achievements in digitization during his visit, including applications to vote. In light of this, he considers education the best investment, and therefore Taipei City is dedicated to introducing digitization to schools by creating smart networks, smart future classrooms, digital learning platform, mobile learning, and smart teaching.

Mayor Ko emphasized that education is the last chance for people with financial difficulties to change their future, and protecting online human rights is of vital importance. Consequently, it is essential to establish school networks and provide students with a mobile learning platform so that they can enjoy educational equality. In particular, in consideration of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, Ko believes that it presents an opportunity for Taipei City to promote the Taipei City CooC Cloud, where students undergoing voluntary quarantine or schoolwide/class-wide class suspension will be able to utilize the online learning management platform, while teachers may use the platform to distribute learning materials and monitor individual students’ learning progress. Furthermore, he believes that cashless transactions will become a global trend, and Taiwan must find a way to keep up with international developments, and thus he hopes to promote cashless transactions in schools. He said that the social structure of senior high school students closely resembles that of adult society, hence the promotion of cashless transactions will begin from senior high school. Currently, the digital student ID card can be bound to the EasyCard to conduct cashless payments, while the electronic payment of tuition fees (delegate collection and payment) is expected to commence a trial run in May of 2020.

The mayor mentioned that Finland’s education is undergoing reform inspired by the Phenomenon Method, where the students no longer need to study specific subjects and instead they adopt the exploring approach to delve into events or phenomena that arouse their curiosity. Through interdisciplinary learning, the aim is to inspire more diversified interests among students; Mayor Ko believes that as long as the students have exhibited an interest in something, there is no need to force them to learn, as they will do so voluntarily. The program offers experiences that Taipei City’s experimental education program can borrow from in the future. As for vocational education, Mayor Ko believes that it should impart the knowledge needed on the market instead of what the teachers can offer. Using Nokia as an example, he said that although the company failed to capitalize on the smartphone trend, they have repositioned and placed the bulk of their emphasis on the 5G industry. Similarly, vocational education should also conform to world trends and make changes to the curricula.

Mayor Ko also spoke of the experience of the Baltic states by stating that, despite Soviet occupation and only attaining independence in 1991, these countries have preserved their sovereignty and independence despite being surrounded by formidable enemies. Their story can also serve as inspiration for Taiwan, as they not only strive to promote the local language but also place emphasis on English learning as well as bilingual learning. Fast-forward to today, the younger generation is now able to communicate in their mother tongue and English. Consequently, in terms of bilingual education in Taipei City, 40% of teacher vacancies in junior high school in 2020 require bilingual expertise (in English and academic disciplines), hoping that English can be used by the students every day in a bid to keep abreast with global development.