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### National Conference Urged by Education Organizations for President-elect Lai

Taipei, April 9 (CNA) More than 10 educational organizations have jointly released a statement on Tuesday, urging President-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德) to convene a National Education Conference following his inauguration in May.

The statement serves as a reminder of the proposed agenda during the presidential campaign and the commitment made by all presidential candidates to organize the ninth National Education Conference if elected. This call comes just ahead of the 30th anniversary of a significant demonstration on April 10, 1994, advocating for substantial education reforms.

Huang Cheng-chieh (黃政傑), the head of the National Academy for Educational Research, highlighted that the previous eight conferences were conducted by the government in response to both local and global transformations.

Given the significant societal changes in Taiwan since the last conference in 2010, Huang emphasized the necessity of holding a ninth conference at this juncture.

Despite the advancements made, there have been calls from within the education sector for a more profound evaluation and restructuring of the entire system. Many have criticized the reforms initiated by Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲), Taiwan’s sole Nobel laureate, three decades ago.

The demonstrators from that period advocated for smaller class sizes, the expansion of high schools and universities, modern teaching methodologies, and the formulation of an Educational Fundamental Act aimed at safeguarding individuals’ right to education while establishing standards for basic education.

The subsequent seventh National Education Conference and the enactment of the Act in 1999 marked a significant shift towards education reform.

During a press briefing, Hou Chun-liang (侯俊良), the president of the National Federation of Teachers’ Unions, expressed dissatisfaction with the outcomes of the reforms, noting that the promised alleviation of student pressure through increased educational institutions did not materialize. Furthermore, the proliferation of high schools had an adverse impact on vocational schools.

Chung Cheng-hsin (鍾正信), the deputy secretary-general of the federation, highlighted that high school class sizes remain large, with some private institutions accommodating up to 45 students, contrary to the promised smaller classes.

Reflecting on the closure of numerous higher education establishments, Lo Te-shui (羅德水), another federation official, underscored the oversight in accounting for population growth in the reform initiatives. He emphasized the need to reassess the educational development of the past three decades to avoid repeating past errors.

Former Education Minister Kuo Wei-fan (郭為藩), serving from 1993 to 1996, echoed the calls for a National Education Conference, portraying it as a vital “check-up” for the country’s educational framework. Such an event, he added, would not only raise public awareness on educational issues but also facilitate expert discussions and strategic planning for the future.

(By Hsu Chih-wei and Chao Yen-hsiang)