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Ko Wen-Je Attends Smart Education Achievement Exhibition – Taipei City to Materialize Human Rights in Cyberspace Through Smart Education Within 2 Years

Mayor Ko with students of Shijian Junior High School Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je attended the Shijian Junior High School smart education achievement exhibition on October 31. During his speech, he expressed his gratitude to the united parents’ association and various parents’ associations for enthusiastically partaking in the smart education agenda. Mayor Ko also reiterated that promoting smart education is Taipei City Government’s first step in materializing human rights in cyberspace. After Taipei City’s smart education-related software and hardware are in position within the next 2 years, children from underprivileged homes may also enjoy equal education opportunities.

According to Mayor Ko, smart education is the most important component of promoting the smart city policy in Taipei City. As mentioned on numerous occasions previously, education is the last chance for people with financial difficulties to change their future. For example, when the imperial examination system was introduced in China over 12 centuries ago, no matter how poor one may have been, as long as one could study diligently to achieve success in exams, one would have been able to rise through the ranks. After the World Wide Web emerged in 1994, people without access to the Internet have no competitiveness. Consequently, the first step in promoting smart education in Taipei City involves the materialization of human rights in cyberspace. Regardless of financial condition and social status, students should be able to learn without any obstacles, therefore a child should not be deprived of the opportunity to absorb knowledge just because he or she does not own a smartphone, or have access to the Internet or a computer. To this end, all 236 schools in Taipei City are equipped with fiber optic internet, and each classroom has Ethernet and Wi-Fi Internet connections; furthermore, grade 3 or higher classrooms in elementary schools are equipped with handheld devices. Although how handheld devices will be developed in the future is still unclear, for the moment they are predominantly iPads. Furthermore, the fiber optic network in Taipei schools has been increased from 1G to 10G, so as long as every class has an iPad, students will have Internet access. The first step is to make sure that all schools have Internet access and all the classrooms are equipped with the necessary hardware; from PCs, projectors, to 85-inch touch screens, these will cost approximately NT$1.6 billion in 2 years. In other words, by September 2020 the latest, every school in Taipei City will be able to attain this standard. However, the most important aspect of the hardware is the platform, something which the city government has discussed at great length and studied in great detail by turning to numerous experts. The strategy is to vertically expand the Taipei City CooC Cloud instead of creating a brand-new platform because it is a lot faster. At present, nearly 10,000 films have been produced for Taipei City CooC Cloud, achieving a click-through rate of more than 15 million. Mayor Ko always believed that online teaching materials form part of Taiwan’s intangible resources, so his aspiration is that one day people in Chinese-speaking regions such as China will be able to read Taipei City CooC Cloud courses online. Reading Taiwan’s teaching materials from a young age will build up the greatest national defense, and this is precisely how it should be prepared.

Mayor Ko elaborate that the government now adopts the public-private partnership (PPP) approach, and the Taipei City CooC Cloud is a form of mobilization in a sense that many teachers are required to film the videos, and if no enthusiastic teachers are willing to do so, the program is destined to fail. Consequently, the aim is to focus on establishing the system before refining it and developing interactive teaching materials that can be divided into different difficulty levels such as easy, intermediate, and difficult. From hardware creation at the beginning to software development, Taipei City CooC Cloud’s curriculum has received a click-through rate of over 10 million in the first year. In the future, the students’ leave of absence, attendance, and tuition fee payment will be integrated into the EasyCard. By then, smart schools will become the most advanced feature of Taipei City. Mayor Ko mentioned that despite the murmurs related to vending machines, the city government hopes that after the briefing, everyone will understand information security is an issue taken very seriously by the authorities.

Mayor Ko thanked colleagues from the Department of Education (DOE) for their hard work on multiple occasions in the meeting, because they have contributed tirelessly over the last couple of years for the sake of smart education promotion and often had to work late. In order for the Taipei City CooC Cloud to reach 10,000 films, the back-end support including server and database management must be extremely sophisticated. The next step in the process involves consolidating courses with varying difficulties such as easy, intermedia, and difficult; in particular, Taipei City Government strives to achieve a digital, paperless operation in areas such as procurement and writing off. The program not only applies to classrooms but also the administration of city government employees. In order to become an advanced nation, Taiwan must stay grounded and start from scratch to lay a firm foundation. One of the crucial elements is smart education, as it not only increases the competitiveness of our future generations, but the more important aspect is the protection of human rights in cyberspace so that underprivileged children will not lose competitiveness on the Internet or while growing up.

Mayor Ko commented that the generation which was too poor to make use of the Internet over the last quarter of a century (1994 to present-day) will have no competitiveness at all, hence it is hoped that the problem will be resolved over the next couple of years. Even if the government will not be able to achieve equality within its powers, the very least it can do is to ensure that people can enjoy equal opportunities. For those who come from disadvantaged families, they will not be as competitive as their peers because they do not have access to knowledge that can be found on the Internet. Mayor Ko said with a heavy heart that wealth disparity in Taiwan is a hereditary problem, and it is almost impossible for disadvantaged people to escape poverty. Therefore, it is imperative to materialize human rights in cyberspace within 2 years, as education offers one last chance for them to turn their lives around. Mayor Ko also thanked the endeavors of the colleagues from the DOE.