JTE v2n1 - A Perspective of Technology Education in Taiwan, Republic of China
A Perspective of Technology Education in Taiwan, Republic of China
                         Lung-Sheng Lee
               The Republic of China was founded in
          1911 and moved its seat of government from
          mainland China to Taiwan in 1949.  Situated
          in the far western Pacific, Taiwan covers an
          area of 36,000 square kilometers (about .38
          percent of the area of the USA) and has a
          population of 20 million.  Its population
          density--556 persons per square kilometer--is
          one of the highest in the world and is over
          20 times the population density of the USA.
          The absence of rich natural resources man-
          dates that the Taiwanese workforce be highly
          productive in order that industry may be com-
          petitive; hence, a comprehensive educational
          system is needed to effectively develop pro-
          ductive abilities of the dense population.
               The core of today's educational system
          in Taiwan (see Figure 1) is the nine-year
          compulsory national education program ("Kuo
          Ming Chiao Yu").  This includes a six-year
          elementary school and a three-year junior
          high school.  Beyond these schools are two
          parallel three-year institutions--a senior
          high school and a senior vocational school.
          Junior college education assumes three pat-
          terns: two-year, three-year, and five-year
          programs.  University programs last four to
          seven years, depending on variations within
          departments.  Technical colleges offer two
          kinds of program: a two-year program for jun-
          ior college graduates and a four-year
          FIGURE 1.  Structure of the educational sys-
          NOTE:  From Ministry of Education, 1989a, p.9.
          program for senior vocational school gradu-
          ates.  At the graduate level, the minimum
          length of study for a master's degree is two
          years, with an additional two years as the
          minimum required to earn a doctorate.  En-
          trance examinations are required for admis-
          sion to schools beyond the level of the
          nine-year compulsory education (Lin, 1985).
               In the 1988-89 school year, the percent-
          age of children of elementary-school age en-
          rolled in school was 99.9 percent; the
          percentage of elementary-school graduates en-
          tering junior high school was 99.1 percent;
          the percentage of junior high graduates en-
          tering senior secondary school was 79.5 per-
          cent, and 45.5 percent of senior secondary
          graduates advanced to higher education
          (Ministry of Education, 1989b).
                    CURRICULUM IN TRANSITION
               In Taiwan, curricula for elementary,
          junior high, and senior high schools are
          promulgated by the Ministry of Education.
          Curriculum standards for all levels of school
          are revised about every 10 years.  Revision
          is made by subcommittees.  The members, ap-
          pointed by the Ministry of Education, are
          curriculum specialists, teacher educators,
          classroom teachers, and administrators.
               According to current junior high and
          senior high curriculum standards(1) (Ministry
          of Education, 1983a & 1983b), which were
          promulgated in July 1983 and have been imple-
          mented since August 1984, students in grades
          7 to 11 must select either industrial arts
          ("Kung I"), or home economics with a two-hour
          weekly study (a regular week is 32 to 39
          hours).  Schools usually assign boys to in-
          dustrial arts programs and girls to home eco-
          nomics.  Some elective courses pertaining to
          industrial arts, like drafting, metalworking,
          and electronics shop, are also provided at
          both junior and senior high levels, but they
          are more vocational-oriented (characterized
          by "learning for earning") than the required
          industrial arts (characterized by "learning
          for living").
               As shown in Tables 1 (Ministry of Educa-
          tion, 1983a) and 2 (Ministry of Education,
          1983b), the objectives and content of indus-
          trial arts education in Taiwan is undoubtedly
          industry-based and technology-oriented.  Its
          curriculum focus is in transition from tradi-
          tional industrial arts to contemporary tech-
          nology education and its content categories
          1   At the elementary level, industrial arts
              is a component of the broad-study subject
              "craft work" which consists of drawing,
              sculpture, design, industrial arts,
              horticulture, and home-making.
          seem to mix broad occupational areas (like
          woodworking) with industry clusters (like the
          manufacturing industry).
          TABLE 1


  Objectives                             Content (allocated weeks)



1.To help students to understand        1. Introduction to

  traditional and contemporary             Industrial Arts (2)

  industrial civilization               2. Blueprint Reading and

  recognize their local industrial         Planning (6)

  status and trends.                    3. Ceramics Shop (5)

2.To provide students with career       4. Woodworking (15)

  exploration opportunities to          5. Plastics Shop (5)

  discover their interests and          6. Metalworking (15)

  abilities in the field of             7. Electricity Shop (7)

  industrial technology                 8. Graphic Communi-

3.To develop students' necessary           cation (4)

  knowledge, skills, and attitudes      9. Construction and

  for living in the industrial             Livelihood (9)

  society.                             10. Manufacturing Industry 

4.To foster students' cooperative          (12)

  industrious, gregarious, and         11. Information Industry

  enthusiastic personalities.              (6)

5.To develop students' consumer        12. Audio-visual

  skills and knowledge.                    Communication (7)

6.To foster students' habits           13. Energy and Power (7)

  to coordinate doing and think-

  ing and ideas about dignity and

  equality in working.




               The implementation of industrial arts
          curriculum standards has led to the following
          supportive efforts:
          o   Industrial Arts Equipment Standards are
              promulgated by the Ministry of Education
              after each curriculum standard revision
              to set up the minimum requirements of in-
              dustrial arts facility and equipment.
          o   Junior-high industrial arts textbooks are
              compiled and printed by the National In-
              stitute of Compilation and Translation,
              an institution of the Ministry of Educa-
              tion.  Commercial senior-high industrial
              arts textbooks also have to be approved
              by the institute.
          TABLE 2


  Objectives                             Content (implemented grade)



1.To introduce students to            1. Project Planning and

  industrial technology knowledge          Drafting (grade 10)

  and foster industrial skills        2. Industrial Materials

  for their industrialized living        (grade 10)

  and advanced studies.               3. Energy Industry (grade

2.To ignite students' interests          10)

  of design and creation, provide     4. Information Industry

  them with career exploration           (grade 11)

  opportunities in the field of       5. Automation (grade 11)

  industrial technology, and

  encourage them to do research

  and invention.

3.To develop students' appropriate

  working habits and attitudes.




          o   Sponsored by the Ministry of Education or
              the departments/bureaus of education in
              provincial/special municipal governments,
              a variety of in-service teacher training
              programs are provided for industrial
              arts; almost all the enrollments of these
              training programs are free of charge.
          o   Through the recognition of outstanding
              industrial arts teachers, the annual con-
              vention, publications, etc., the Chinese
              Industrial Arts Education Association de-
              votes its energies to the improvement of
              industrial arts education at all levels.
              edited by the Department of Industrial
              Arts Education at National Taiwan Normal
              University, is disseminated monthly, free
              of charge, to secondary schools and other
              institutions pertaining to industrial
              arts education.
          o   Funded by the Ministry of Education or
              the departments/ bureaus of education in
              provincial/special municipal governments,
              serial publications and teaching aids are
              often provided for industrial arts teach-
          o   An industrial arts consultative team,
              composed of industrial arts teachers,
              supervisors, and principals, is organized
              at every county and city to serve junior
              high industrial arts teachers.
          o   The yearly industrial arts project exhi-
              bition and/or student contest is/are re-
              spectively held at county/city and
              province/special municipality levels.
               There are two university departments of
          industrial arts education in Taiwan, one at
          the National Taiwan Normal University and the
          other at the National Kaohsiung Normal Uni-
          versity.  Each provides both pre-service and
          in-service secondary school teacher training
          programs.  In terms of the pre-service pro-
          gram, students are admitted following suc-
          cessful performance on the yearly College
          Joint Entrance Examination (CJEE) adminis-
          tered to graduating senior-high students.
          During their five-year period of study in the
          program, students enjoy a four-year tuition
          waiver and living expenses in their universi-
          ties.  One additional year is spent in sec-
          ondary schools in a teaching internship.  In
          recent years, there have been around 100
          graduates annually from these two departments
          of industrial arts education.  Faculty mem-
          bers in these two departments have plenty of
          chances to devote themselves to a variety of
          efforts to improve industrial arts education.
               A problem refers to "a significant dis-
          crepancy between an existing degree or amount
          of a characteristic ['to be' or the actual]
          and a preferred degree or amount of that
          characteristic ['ought to be' or the ideal]"
          (Friedman, Brinlee, & Hayes, 1980, p. 16).
          Today's industrial arts education in Taiwan
          has the following problems which are listed
          in a descending order of priority.
               Since both the entrance examinations for
          senior high school and college/university ad-
          missions are very competitive(2) and indus-
          trial arts is not included in the required
          subjects for these examinations, most par-
          ents, principals, teachers, and even students
          in secondary schools see industrial arts as a
          subordinate, unworthy subject.
          THE FIELD
               The current name of industrial arts
          "Kung I" was translated from American "indus-
          trial arts" in the 1950s, but the term "Kung
          I" has been used in Chinese society for thou-
          sands of years.  "Kung I", in early Chinese
          language, referred to polytechnic or technol-
          ogy, but, has been widely seen as the equiv-
          alent of handicraft after the introduction of
          western ways into China at the turn of this
          century.  Hence, it is difficult for profes-
          sionals in the field of industrial arts edu-
          cation to communicate the ideas of this field
          to the public.
               Coupled with the public's perceptions,
          the educational administrators admitted nu-
          merous personnel who majored in fine arts or
          related disciplines to be QUALIFIED indus-
          trial arts teachers in the late 1960s.  Many
          of these so-called "industrial arts
          teachers," especially those who have been un-
          willing to attend in-service teacher training
          programs, have opposed the development of
          technology-oriented industrial arts educa-
               Based on Lee's studies (1986, 1987, &
          1988), some drawbacks of the centralized in-
          dustrial arts curriculum standards have been
          2   In 1988, for example, 112,327 applicants
              took the College Joint Entrance Examina-
              tion (CJEE) and only 37,929 (33.76 per-
              cent of the total applicants) were
              admitted to one of the day-session pro-
              grams in colleges or universities.
          o   The revision interval is too long, so the
              standards are unable to promptly reflect
              social changes.
          o   The standards lack flexibility, so they
              are unable to meet differences in school
              districts and students.
          o   Its decision-making process is too
              teacher educator-oriented.
          o   Its process leans toward an arbitrary
              judgment because few related professional
              inquiries such as situation analysis, ex-
              periments, and follow-ups have been done.
               Admittedly, the implementation of cur-
          riculum standards mainly depends upon the
          teacher's instruction.  It is evident that
          industrial arts teachers' instruction in
          Taiwan has widely deviated from the ideal
          curriculum prescribed by the curriculum
          standards.  The deviation could be a desira-
          ble modification based upon critiques of the
          curriculum standards, but unfortunately al-
          most all deviation has led in a worse direc-
          tion (Lee, 1987).  The two predominate
          factors to cause the deviation are:
               TEACHERS' INDIFFERENCE.  As mentioned
          above, industrial arts has not been a subject
          required by the entrance examinations of sen-
          ior high schools and colleges/universities.
          Lacking serious supervision and desirable ex-
          pectations, many industrial arts teachers are
          dull or unable to reflect curriculum change
          in their teaching.  Especially, the thirteen
          sub-categories of junior high industrial arts
          curriculum, mixing broad occupational areas
          with industry clusters, are really too great
          to be managed well.
               TEACHERS' OVERLOAD.  At present, each
          industrial arts teacher is confronted by
          large class sizes, averaging 46 students, and
          about 23 teaching hours per week (more than
          the hours of most teachers teaching other
          subjects).  The overload leads them to often
          "cut the feet to fit the shoes," i.e. trim
          instructional activities to what they can
               When industrial arts had its name
          changed from "Arbeit" (German word meaning
          "work") in the early 1960s, Wang (1960), who
          was the director of the Department of Second-
          ary Education, Ministry of Education and in
          charge of curricular revision for secondary
          schools at that time, cited the following
          Chinese fable to claim the appropriate posi-
          tion of industrial arts in general education.
             In the past, an expert in general edu-
             cation, who thought the 3R's--READING,
             WRITING, and ARITHMETIC were the whole
             of general education, hired a boat to
             pass a river.  While the boat was
             crossing the river, he chatted away to
             the boatman.  First, he asked, "Can you
             read?"  The boatman answered, "No."  He
             told the boatman, "You lost one third
             of your life."  He then asked if the
             boatman could write; the boatman's an-
             swer was also negative.  "You lost two
             thirds of your life.", said the expert.
             After a moment, the boat was in the
             middle of the river and the wind made
             the boat pretty unstable.  The boatman
             asked the expert, "Can you SWIM?" The
             expert answered, "No" with fear.  The
             boatman complacently said, "If the boat
             turns over, you will lose the whole of
             your life." (p. 9)
               The fable indicates that descriptive,
          prescriptive, and formal knowledge (which can
          be linked to the 3R'S) is not sufficient
          learning for general education; praxiological
          knowledge (which can be linked to SWIMMING)
          has to also be offered in schools (Towers,
          Lux, & Ray, 1966).  Admittedly, since indus-
          trial arts education in Taiwan was greatly
          influenced by the USA in the 1950s,(3) it has
          appropriately been seen as an action-based
          study of functional literacy (like swimming
          in the above fable) in general education.
          Owing to the preceding problems, however, in-
          dustrial arts education is still "swimming up
          3   In 1953, under some American specialists'
              assistance, the Department of Industrial
              Education at Provincial Taiwan Normal
              College (now National Taiwan Normal Uni-
              versity) was founded in Taipei, Taiwan.
              Since that time, American industrial arts
              theory and practice has been widely in-
              troduced into Taiwan through frequent ex-
              changes of Sino-America professional
              personnel and literature.
               In accordance with the plan to extend
          the nine-year compulsory national education
          to 12 years in the 1990s, the industrial arts
          curriculum standards are expected to be re-
          vised in the coming two years and the stu-
          dent's formative performance on all subjects
          in junior high school could be considered as
          the criteria to admit him/her to his/her pre-
          ferred senior high or senior vocational
          school.  This appears to be a good opportu-
          nity for professionals in this field to re-
          name industrial arts, develop a progressive
          philosophy, reconstruct industrial arts cur-
          riculum, and win the public's support for in-
          dustrial arts education.
               Under a centralized strategy, industrial
          arts education in Taiwan is required for stu-
          dents (mainly, boys) in grades 7 to 11.  In
          the process of transition and characterized
          by the industrial-base and technology-
          orientation, current industrial arts curric-
          ulum mixes traditional "industrial arts" with
          contemporary "technology education."
               Although a variety of support from gov-
          ernmental institutions for industrial arts
          education is evident, today's industrial arts
          education in Taiwan is still struggling with
          many problems which are mainly caused by the
          public's weak support.  It is anticipated
          that the coming curriculum standards revision
          may effect a profound improvement upon indus-
          trial arts education.
          Lung-Sheng Lee is Associate Professor, De-
          partment of Industrial Arts Education, Na-
          tional Taiwan Normal University.  He wishes
          to thank Dr. Michael L. Scott and Dr. E.
          Keith Blankenbaker for their comments on an
          earlier draft.
          Friedman, M. I., Brinlee, P. S., & Hayes, P.
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          Lee, L. S.  (1987, December).  A critique of
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          Permission is given to copy any
          article or graphic provided credit is given and
          the copies are not intended for sale.
Journal of Technology Education   Volume 2, Number 1       Fall 1990

by Radiya Rashid