Working in education is like being a gardener. You plant seeds and nurture the seedling till it grows strong. The result of this nurturing is the future hope of this country. Mayor Hu sets goals for the educational field, so that the children of Taichung can have a future that knows no boundaries.
Leading Force in English Educational Reform
In order to create a good English educational base, Mayor Hu has been actively promoting the extension of English education. Since the beginning of the 2002 school term, the English education program of elementary schools was pushed forward to begin at elementary 2nd grade level. It was also the first English Education Experimental Program approved by the Department of Education in Taiwan. In the last three years, the English language skills of Taichung’s elementary school students have improved rapidly, demonstrating the excellent results of this program. Many other counties and cities have followed in Taichung’s footsteps and began English education programs at elementary school level. Many of them also came to Taichung learn how Taichung city carried out this program. With the world heading towards globalization, foreign language skills have become increasingly important in education. And the city government’s sensitivity towards this matter and the actions it took are to be commended.
As for human resources in this field, the city government has been actively seeking approval from the Department of Education to allow for county and city governments to employ foreign English teachers. It is believed that foreign English teachers would be able to help extend the world view of elementary and high school students, increase opportunities for students to interact with foreigners and give them more chances to practice speaking English. In December 2004, Taichung became the first to commission professional organizations to assist in employing foreign teachers. The city government successfully employed 13 qualified foreign English teachers. These teachers have started assisting in English language courses in elementary and high schools since March 2005, a first in Taiwan. These foreign English teachers not only take part in everyday teaching, they also assist in organizing teacher training camps, development of supplementary educational resources and decorating English speaking environments. And in July 2005, they also helped organize a City Weekend English Speaking Summer Camp for parents and children. This activity received rave reviews from both parents and children.
In support of the Department of Education’s program to promote English learning countrywide, the city government has organized free language learning activities at easily accessible locations for citizens. This service was also extended to help less privileged school children, families and others. Since the program’s beginning in 2004, the results have been significant, with approximately 4000 enrollments. Many families even had all three generations taking part in the learning.
Multiple awards wins Taichung the name of “City of Baseball”
In the development of citizens’ sport participation; Taichung city has had some excellent results in the field of baseball, winning five championships. Since Jin Long Junior League Baseball Team won the championship title at the World Junior League Baseball Tournament in America in 1969, Taichung city has been known as the “City of Baseball”, with excellent results from teams such as Da Ren, Li Xing, TaiPing and Zhong Xiao Elementary Schools, Dong Fung and Zhong Shan Junior High Schools, Shin Min, Ming De, Yi Ning and Xi Yuan High Schools, as well as National Taichung Agricultural Senior High School have all gotten excellent results on behalf of the city.
This year, Li Xing Elementary School’s Little League Baseball team won the championship title at the 2005 Xie Guo Cheng Cup at the National Little League Baseball Tournament. They then represented Taiwan at Japan’s Fukuoka at the World Little League Baseball Tournament between July 23 and July 30. Xi Yuan High School’s Junior Level Baseball Team won the National Junior League Baseball Tournament in 2005, and represented Taiwan at the American Pony Baseball World Cup Junior Tournament (for ages 17-18). National Taichung Agricultural Senior High School’s Taichung Representative Team won the 2005 Wang Zhen Zhi Cup Junior League Tournament Championship, and represented Taiwan (six members from National Taichung Agricultural Senior High School and three members from Xi Yuan High School) at the Asia Cup Junior League Tournament in Korea. Xi Yuan High School’s Junior Level League won the 2005 National Junior League Tournament Championship, representing Taiwan at the American Pony Baseball World Cup Junior Asia Pacific Tournament (for ages 13-14) in Tokyo Japan between July 23 and July 30.
In 2005 alone, Taichung city already has four teams representing Taiwan at international baseball tournaments. These results are really something to be proud of, as it is no small feat for one city to gain four national representations at international tournaments. The third level’s good results were continued from Taichung city’s five level baseball teams (professional, senior, junior, youth league and little league) winning the national championship in the same year. Even though the level of subsidies from the National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports to the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association has decreased, the Taichung city government has continued to support this national pride by allocating NT$4,500,000 each year for city schools as subsidies to help train athletes and for other training and competition expenses. There is another NT$4,500,000 allocated to city schools for hiring baseball coaches.
Mayor Hu has received grants from the National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports to build an international standard baseball stadium, which has been keenly anticipated by the people of Taichung. The work commencement ceremony took place on December 29, 2004, and the building’s completion is scheduled for August 2006. The stadium’s location is at the intersection of HuanZhong Road and ChongDe Road, with an area of 9 hectares and can seat up to 20,000 members of audience. Once this international standard baseball stadium is completed, not only would it benefit Taichung citizens, people from Taichung County, Nantou County and Changhua County would only be about an hour’s drive away. With the development of transportation nowadays, the service area would reach up to Hsinchu in the north and Chiayi in the south. It will also help balance the number of sporting facilities in the country.
Apart from the popularity of baseball, the city government is also promoting other ball games. The Taichung City Government and the Chinese Taipei Football Association jointly organized the 2005 Taichung Youth Football Festival, which took place between August 13, and 18 at the Taichung City football stadium. Mayor Hu expressed that it was not since the Mulan Women’s Football Competition over 20 years ago that Taichung has been host to an international football tournament. This is also the first time that Taichung city has held an international football activity with international youths as the main focus. This festival had multiple values in health, recreation, education, competition and international importance. All these values were important for the government’s policies of promoting Taichung as a healthy sunshine city. It was also an indication that Taichung city’s efforts at promoting the sport of football have received international recognition. Mayor Hu expressed that although Taichung city has limited resources, it is still able to hold such an international football festival goes to prove that there are no missions that are impossible.
Providing a better educational environment for the physically and mentally challenged
The problems and needs of education for the physically and mentally challenged desperately need to be addressed. The city government has been working very hard to improve school environments to accommodate the needs of the physically and mentally challenged students. Since 2003, there have been major renovations in schools to make their surroundings friendlier towards the physically and mentally challenged students. There have also been efforts to gain grants from the Department of Education, so that changes can be made to fit Special Educational Policies and laws that protect the physically and mentally challenged. In order to solve the schooling problems of the severely physically challenged, and to avoid having them travel all the way to Changhua for schooling, the city government has started special classes at GuangFu Elementary School, and 13 facilities for the physically and mentally challenged have been installed. Enrollments are now open for the severely physically handicapped and there are already eight students currently taking part in the program, the first of its kind in all of central Taiwan.
In an effort to take care of the needs of physically and mentally challenged students, the city government and volunteers who are retired educators or tertiary educated, jointly promoted a program which aims to help physically and mentally challenged students in their studies so that they catch up with students at their level. This program commenced in the second half of the school term in 2003. Up until 2005, there are ten junior high schools and 20 elementary schools taking part in the program, with 163 classes and over 1000 students benefiting from the program. It is hoped that with combined resources, these physically and mentally challenged students will enjoy a fairer chance at education, increase their self confidence and create a friendlier school atmosphere for them.
Excellent results in adult education is recognized by the people of Taichung
In the area of community learning and lifelong education, the city government has commissioned local communities and universities to set up community colleges. In 2002 and 2003, Taichung World Trade Center, Central Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taichung City Y.M.C.A. and Chao Yang University of Technology set up four community colleges in the areas of WenShan, DaKeng, DaDun and WuQuan. When the city government carried out a government policy satisfaction survey in 2005, these community colleges received a “number one” recognition by the people of Taichung.