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Civic Education Reform in Taiwan: Directions, Controversies, and Challenges

Meihui Liu, National Hualien Teachers College, Hualien, Taiwan Shiowlan Doong, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan

Abstract This article reviews the issues and challenges presented by civic education reform at the primary and junior high level in Taiwan. After providing a brief historical overview of the civic education reform in Taiwan, the paper focuses on the scope and sequence of civic education in the new Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum. It then compares curriculum patterns, goals, and values promoted in the old and the new civic curriculum. Finally, it discusses controversies and challenges confronting this reform in Taiwan.

Introduction Since Taiwan's Martial Law was lifted in 1987, there has been increasing criticism of the education system for its inflexibility and for failing to address the particular needs of Taiwan's rapidly changing society. Consequently, educational reform has become a major issue, and in the last few years, measures have been adopted to deal with problems in different sectors of the educational system. The development of a Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum for social studies is one of those major measures. This new curriculum is a replacement of the 'separate subjects' teaching approach with an integrated subject teaching approach, targeting both elementary and junior high levels. It not only redefines the field of civic education at the elementary and junior high levels, but also changes dramatically what the field used to be in terms of scope and sequence, teacher education, school and classroom practice, and the like. This article seeks to explore why and how the current civic education reform at the primary and junior high level is taking place in Taiwan, along with the nature of the reform's directions, controversies, and challenges. The analysis will encompass four critical aspects. First, it highlights what factors have led to the current reform and several important directions of this reform. Second, it analyses the scope and sequence of civic education in the new Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum. Third, it compares curriculum patterns, goals, and values promoted in the old and the new civic curriculum. Finally, it discusses controversies and challenges confronting this reform in Taiwan.

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Education Reform: The Whole Society's Concern Education reform is now a critical and controversial aspect of public policy in Taiwan. Those pushing for reform are not limited to students and teachers but include parents and nonofficial organisations as well. Since the 1987 lifting of martial law, there has been rapid and substantial change in Taiwan's socio-political structure; increasing public interest in the issue of education reform dates from that time. Evidence of this increasing interest can be found in the number of non-official organisations such as the Council for Promoting Teachers' Rights, The Humanistic Education Foundation, and Taiwan Teachers'Association. These groups have consistently pushed the government to implement change. They claim that education in Taiwan should be 'decentralised, flexible, diversified, autonomous, and depoliticised'. Under increasing pressure of calls for education reform, the Executive Yuan formed the Commission on Educational Reform (CER) in late 1994, headed by Nobel laureate Lee Yuantseh. The commission was responsible for diagnosing the problems of the present education system and suggested possible reforms. The commission's report was made public at the end of 1996 and it highlighted five important directions of education reform: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. To design multiple avenues of entry to higher secondary and tertiary institutions. To decentralise control of the educational system. To improve the overall quality of education. To teach all students effectively. To promote life-long learning. (CER, 1996)

Based on CER's report, the Educational Reform Action Program submitted by the Ministry of Education (MOE) was approved by the Executive Yuan on May 1998. This five-year program was allocated a total of NTS 157 billion starting from 1999 in order to carry out twelve projects. The projects which exert the most widespread influences on students are 'Multiple Schemes for Entering Senior High Schools' and 'the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum'. The former policy, launched in 1998, aimed to phase out the conventional senior high school entrance examination by the school year 2001 and to offer alternative routes for graduates to enter high schools. The alternatives include recommendation and selection, application, and assignment in accordance with scores on the Basic Competence Tests (BCT).' As the previous examination system has long been criticised for its emphasis on rote learning, the new system is expected to reduce examination-driven instruction and provide students with more authentic learning. Another crucial policy for education reform is the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum Plan for Elementary and Junior High Schools, which was implemented in the school year 2001. This curriculum plan is regarded as a turning point for curriculum decentralisation because the curriculum standards- are replaced by non-prescriptive curriculum guidelines, and the national curriculum is replaced by school-based curricula. Other major changes include: 1. Designing the curriculumfi-ameworkfromgrade 1 to 9, rather than separating elementary level from junior high level. 2. Replacing the separate subjects approach with an interdisciplinary approach, targeting

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seven major subject areas (languages, math, social studies, nature and technology, arts and humanities, health and physical education, and general activities). 3. Concentrating on the ten basic learning capabilities or skills (such as critical thinking, information processing) rather than knowledge content. 4. Shortening the school year from 260 to 200 days, and from 6 to 5 days a week. Completely opening the junior high textbook market for private publishers is one of the decentralisation policies of the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum. Before 1996, the National Institute for Compilation and Translation (NTCT) was the only institute authorised to compile and publish textbooks for elementary and junior high level. Since 1996, the MOE has given elementary schools a free hand to select their own textbooks. Aside from the standardised version of elementary textbooks edited and published by NTCT, privately published texts, which are approved by the authorities, are in use as well. With the implementation of the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum, the opening of the textbook market is also extended to junior high level. This policy means that the government will remove the control of political ideology in the civic education curriculum.

Civic Education in the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum The new curriculum guidelines attempt to reduce the number of school subjects by integrating subjects of a similar nature. For example, geography, history, and civics at elementary and junior high school level are integrated as the new subject social studies. In addition, six important issues are identified and integrated into seven major subject areas. The seven issues include environmental education, gender-fair education, human rights education, information education, home economics education, and career development education. It is evident that the civics curriculum reform is influenced by American social studies education. There are two reasons for the adoption of Americanised civic education: the sheer extent of American writing on the subject, and the tendency of education policy makers to attend American universities. In the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum, the social studies curriculum is organised around nine thematic strands which are similar to America's ten thematic strands for the social studies, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1 : The Comparison of Social Studies Curriculum of Taiwan and the US US Cuhure Time, Continuity, and Change People, Places, and Environment Individual Development and Identity People and Time Change and Continuity People and Space Taiwan

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US Individuals, Groups, and Institutions Power, Authority, and Governance Production, Distribution, and Consumption Science, Technology, and Society Global Connections Civic Ideals and Practice

Taiwan Individuals, Groups, and Interpersonal Relations Power, Rule, and Human Rights Production, Distribution, and Consumption Science, Technology, and Society Global connection Meaning and Values

Source: Thematic strands are from NCSS (1994) and MOE (2000)

Three thematic strands are identical: production, distribution, and consumption; science, technology, and society; and global connection. Also, the American strands time, continuity, and change; and people, places, and environment are reorganised as people and time, people and space, and change and continuity. Civic ideals and practice is omitted but meaning and values is emphasised. It is difficult to understand why the theme of civic ideals and practice is omitted since civic education has been regarded as a primary and long-term goal of social studies education in many countries.

The Comparison of the Old and New Civic Curriculum In this section, we will analyse the directions of current civic edueation reform by comparing the new and the old civic curriculum (see Table 2).

Old Civic Curriculum School Subject Elementary: Social Studies Morality and Health Junior High: Civies and Morality, Understanding Taiwan Curriculum Pattern Social Studies: Expanding environments Civics and Morality: discipline-based Goals Morality and Health To perform behavior codes and etiquette, to foster good habits.

New Civic Curriculum Social Studies

Thematic Strands Interdisciplinary

To develop loeal concern, national identity, and global views.

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Old Civic Curriculum To develop proper ethical concepts, to cultivate basic virtues, to nourish noble sentiment. To respect human nature and life, to enrich moral life. To promote the ability of thinking and judgment, to be responsible for one's behaviors and attitudes.

New Civic Curriculum To develop democratic minds, rule of law, and responsibility. To develop critical thinking, value judgment, andproblemsolving ability. To develop social participation, reasoned decision-making, and practical ability. To develop skills of expression, communication, and cooperation.

Social Studies To develop proper self-concept, harmonious relationships between individual and group, and to cultivate good habits in order to develop wholesome personality. To guide students to understand environments, nation's history, geography, and culture in order to nourish their affection and love of homeland, society, and nation. To guide students to know the development of world, to broaden their views and mind in order to develop the universal ideas of equality, reciprocity, and cooperation. To develop students' abilities of critical thinking, value judgment, and problemsolving in order to adapt to democratic society. Civics and Morality Developing moral concepts and behaving well in daily life. Acquiring a basic knowledge of law and political science, to develop the ideas of democracy and the mle of law, and

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Old Civic Curriculum to promote understanding of a citizen's rights and obligations, and the ability to fulfill them. Enhancing basic knowledge of sociology and economics, to care for the community, and to promote the ability to participate in social and economic activities. Increasing basic knowledge and appreciation of Chinese culture and international cultures, to develop the ability to disseminate Chinese culture, and to cultivate respectful attitudes toward different cultures. Understanding Taiwan Increasing understanding of the social environment of Taiwan Developing multicultural perspectives and the sentiment of loving one's community and nation. Sources: MOE (1993), MOE (1995), MOE (2000)

New Civic Curriculum

Ttte Subjects and Curriculum Patterns The former civic curriculum followed two different curriculum standards: Elementary Curriculum Standards (issued in 1993) and Junior High School Curriculum Standards (issued in 1995). The subjects related to civic education were Morality and Health for grade 1 to 6, Social Studies for grades 1 to 6, Understanding Taiwan for grade 7, and Civics and Morality for grades 8 to 9. In the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum Guidelines, all subjects of a similar nature are integrated as one learning area. Therefore, civic education is related to social studies for grades 1 to 9. It is obvious that the old civic education adopts discipline-based curriculum, while the new one adopts interdisciplinary curriculum. As to the curriculum pattern, the former Social Studies, organised based on the notion of expanding environments', gradually expands a child's worlds from the individual, family, school, community, nation, and finally to the entire world. The social studies curriculum standards indicated that the social studies eurriculum should be organised around 64 generalisations abstracted from six disciplines: history, geography, psychology, political science, sociology, and economics (MOE, 1993). Understanding Taiwan and Civics and Morality were

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both organised based on social science disciplines. For example. Civics and Morality includes modules in school and social life, law and political life, economic hfe and cultural life. As mentioned above, the Social Studies in the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum adopted integrated curriculum approach. The curriculum is organised around nine thematic strands to integrate the concepts of civics, history and geography. This will provide individual schools more flexibility to develop their own curriculum with the possibility to show greater variations in different schools. Goals and Focus The old civic curriculum emphasised knowledge transmission, while participatory citizenship was seldom encouraged. Teachers believed that citizenship can be developed by persuasion, socialisation, and indoctrination (Liu, 2001). Teachers and textbooks are seen as the authoritative sources of knowledge. As long as subject matter coverage is perceived as an important goal of school learning, knowledge is fixed, and children's responsibility is to learn what the teachers and textbooks present. Civic education has been decontextualised and has focused on abstract academic knowledge. Such learning seems at odds with an understanding of participatory civic education. In the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum, ten goals were set up within the social studies related to civic education. Critical thinking, problem solving, democratic participation, and social concern are emphasised more than acquiring knowledge of the social sciences. The nature of civic education in the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum is similar to what Barr, Barth, and Shermis (1977) described as the 'reflective inquiry tradition', which means citizenship should be fostered based on reflective inquiry and decision-making in a socio-political context. Citizenship is best promoted through a process of inquiry in which knowledge is derived when citizens make decisions and solve problems. Values Promoted The old civic curriculum is more morality oriented than the new one. The titles of the subjects 'Morality and Health' and 'Civics and Morality' revealed that morality shared important responsibility for civic education. In addition, the Civic and Morality textbooks were organised around two main domainscivic virtues and civic knowledge. The twelve virtues included honesty, patriotism, law-abiding, benevolence, filial piety, etiquette, industry and frugality, justice, public virtue, responsibility, cooperation, and respect. The values emphasised in the old civic education were, to a large extent, directed by Confucianism's central ideals that stress the virtues of humanity, filial piety, benevolence, and proper social relations. In the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum, there are several performance expectations under each thematic strand. The performance expectations focus more on competence than on morality or virtues. For example, most of the performance expectations begin with words such as 'describe', 'understand', 'explore', 'compare', 'analyse', 'measure', 'evaluate' and the like. Comparing the goals of the old curriculum and performance expectation of the new curriculum, we can find different values embedded in each curriculum. First, social cohesion was emphasised in the old civic education, while social diversity is emphasised more in the new

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curriculum. The old curriculum did not mention much about culture differences and it recognised only mainstream culture to enforce homogeneity of citizens within the state. However, because of the influence of multiculturalism from Western societies, minority groups have been empowered to raise their consciousness and to voice their needs. The new civic education recognises the need to infuse social diversity and muUicultural issues into the curriculum. There are several performance expectations that emphasize the ideals of multiculturalism. For example: (a) to compare multiple perspectives of history, (b) to describe different life styles in different districts, (c) to understand different environments and to respect the diversity, (d) to be aware of and to respect the diversity of different cultures. In addition, national identity was stressed as a fundamental value in the old curriculum no matter whether it was Chinese identity (social studies, civics and morality) or Taiwanese identity (Understanding Taiwan). However, the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum does not explicitly mention the importance of national identity or how to achieve it through performance expectations. The term 'national identity' appears only once in the goals and never appears in the performance expectation. Although the curriculum avoids representing Chinese identity or Taiwan identity, the proportion of Taiwan's culture and history is greater than Chinese history and culture as embedded in the performance expectations.

Controversies and Challenges The Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum is the biggest educational reform in Taiwan's education history. It not only involves dramatic changes in the way civic education is implemented at school, but also reshapes the field of the civic education profession. This reform, although just implemented in September 2001, has come under severe debate and criticism. During, a twoday conference designed to review progress of the ongoing education reform on December 15 and 16,2001, scholars and parents criticised the reform and also accused the MOE of trying to recruit 'certain individuals' to endorse the current education reforms to present a false impression that a so-called consensus has been reached among the majority for the undertaking (The China Post Staff, 2001). There are a number of major controversies and challenges confronting this reform in terms of the process of curriculum development, the appropriateness of integrating primary and junior high school curricula, the Americanised direction of the reform, gaps between the ideal and the real, the issue of national identity and Taiwanisation. Process of Curriculum Development In Taiwan, a typical model of developing new curriculum is that (a) the MOE assigns several scholars, administrators, curriculum specialists, and one or two teachers to format a committee; (b) this committee then works in isolation without involvement of concerned citizen groups, teacher groups or others for one or two years; (c) the MOE promulgates the new curriculum to the public and has it implemented. Sometimes, there might be several sessions of public hearings or focus groups after its promulgation. However, the purpose of those hearings is focused on introducing the new curriculum to teachers; not on its merit. Practitioners and the public have no way to be heard in the process of developing the new curriculum.

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This model worked in the past when Taiwan was an authoritarian country. Unfortunately, the development of the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum followed this typical model in disregard of the changing reality of the society. Scholars who were involved in the development of the new curriculum guideline were mostly from the field of general curriculum study. Scholars, teacher educators from teacher education programs, as well as practitioners in the field of civic education, history, and geography were not involved. It is a complete top-down curriculum development model and is, therefore, questioned strongly by teacher educators, practitioners and the public-at-large (Chang, 1999; Pan, 1999; Chang, 2001). Appropriateness of Integrating Primary and Junior High School Curricula One major criticism is with respect to the appropriateness of integrating primary and junior high school curricula. Critics of the reform question the rationale for the so-called Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum. They argue that there are differences between primary and junior high education in terms of students' needs and school reality (Chang, 1999). The new Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum ignores the specialty of each educational level. Second, it is argued that one of the tasks for junior high education is to prepare students for senior high school Ufe. The new Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum not only fails to ftilfill this task but also creates a big gap and inconsistency between the junior and senior high school education. Third, since 1996, the MOE has been encouraging and helping local governments to establish a six-year combined high school system which includes junior and senior high school students with unified school government, educating students from the age of 12 to 18. There were 61 combined public high schools established as of the 2000 school year and a number of junior high schools are in preparation for transforming into combined high schools (MOE, 2001). Thus, critics of the reform proposed that a six-year integrated curriculum for junior and senior high education is more appropriate than one that combines the elementary and junior high levels. Americanised Direction of the Reform As noted in the previous section, there are a lot of similarities between the NCSS thematic standards of the United States and Taiwan's curriculum guidelines for nine-year integrated social studies. Both disciplinary scholars and teacher educators criticised the new curriculum as being too 'Americanised'. They argued that the curriculum guideline mimicked the NCSS thematic standards without considerations of divergent cultural, social, and educational contexts between Taiwan and America (Yuh-How Deng, & Long-Shen Lao, personal communication, December 23, 1999; Chang, 1999). The critics thus addressed the need to investigate what is taken to be worthwhile knowledge in Taiwan's society so as to establish more appropriate curriculum guidelines suitable to Taiwan's social, cultural and educational context (Doong, 2001 ; Forums at the International Conference on Citizenship and Teacher Education, November 3-4,2001). Gaps Between the Ideal and the Real There are a number of gaps between the ideal and the real civic education caused by teachers' professional abilities/teacher education programs and the pressure from senior high school

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entrance exams. Teachers 'professional abilities. In implementing the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum, teachers are expected to be able to design and develop curriculum utilising an interdisciplinary approach. However, there are gaps between the ideal and the real, particularly at the junior high school level. First, in the past, the teaching of civic education at the junior high schools was mainly covered in one subject, 'Civics and Morality'. Both 'History' and 'Geography', which shoulder tremendous responsibility in terms of civic education in the United States, had never been considered a part of civic education in Taiwan. 'History', 'Geography', and 'Civics and Morality' were isolated subjects at the junior high level. Second, there are different teacher education departments at normal universities for history, geography, and civics and morality. Social studies has never been an integrated field in Taiwan. Additionally, history and geography are more academic-oriented than citizenship-oriented in the standard teacher education programs. Teachers of 'Civics and Morality' have never been trained to teach history and geography. Similarly, political science, law, economics, and social sciences are not required courses and are not offered in history and geography teacher education programs. Nor have teacher education programs ever offered courses as to how to integrate the knowledge of those disciplines in their curriculum and teaching. In other words, teachers of'History', 'Geography', and 'Civics and Morality' have o been trained for the teaching of integrated social studies. Moreover, the MOE and local govemments offered very limited opportunities for workshops for inservice teacher training in this regard. Neither has any long-term teacher re-education plan been proposed to date. As a result, teachers at the junior high schools feel very anxious about the new curriculum and their lack of professional knowledge and teaching skills for disciplines other than their major one (Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum). Therefore, the sweeping and radical changes from the discipline-based curriculum to the integrated curriculum result in a deep gap between the ideal and the real. Pressure from the Basic Competence Test. The objectives of the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum are to simplify the leaming content, reduce students' heavy leaming load, provide students with flexible curricular options, improve students' abilities of knowledge integrating, critical thinking and problem solving, and foster basic skills and lifelong leaming attitude necessary for modem citizenship (MOE, 2000). Nevertheless, preparing students for the Basic Competence Test is still the main coneem of parents, school administrators, and teachers. As a result, teaching-to-the-test is and will be commonly practised. In addition, because of the change of textbook policy, there is no longer a standardised version of textbooks for all school levels. Different privately published textbooks vary in content, scope, and sequence. As a result, students are forced to read as many versions of textbooks as they can so as to get high scores on the Basic Competence Test (Hsu, 2001). Teaching in Taiwan's secondary schools is strongly linked to textbooks and aims largely toward

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preparation for advancement to successive levels. Unless the problem caused by the examination system can be resolved, the goal of improving students' abilities of integrating knowledge, critical thinking and problem solving will not be realised. Issue of National Identity and Taiwanisation The new nine-year curriculum guidelines for social studies have had to refocus from Chinese nationalism to indigenous understanding. There is now less emphasis on general Chinese history, with more attention being devoted to Taiwan's culture and history as well as world topics. For example, 7 out of 13 performance expectations in Theme 1, People and Time, are regarding people, events, culture, and so on in the local community and Taiwan. Four performance expectations are for the understanding of historical development and civilisations concerning all human beings. Only two performance expectations involve the understanding of Chinese history and its interrelationship with other countries/cultures in Asia and the world (MOE, 2000). The Taiwanised orientation in the new curriculum involves the controversy of national identity. The switch of the content from China-centred to Taiwan-centred orientation, although being a strong desire of some groups, has caused debates regarding what is worthwhile and legitimate knowledge and what is the appropriate way to present the issue of national identity and the relationship between Taiwanese and Chinese cultures.

Conclusion Education reforms never exist in isolation from or unaffected by events and attitudes in the culture and society of which the educational institution is a part. The process of shaping curriculum is a complex political and ethical phenomenon rather than a simple rational one. Taiwan's curriculum reforms clearly reflect the complexity of curriculum development, which were subject to historical traditions and tendencies, to diverse and contradicting cultural and social pressures, and to the characteristics of those involved in the development and implementation of curriculum. Curriculum reform involves not only a series of policy changes or curriculum experiments, but also a risk of common wellbeing. Therefore, it needs deep thinking and considerate decisionmaking. Moreover, curriculum cannot succeed without the support of the school, the academic and the larger culture of the society. Before the new civic education curriculum can be implemented successfully, Taiwan still has a long way to go.

References Ban-, R. D., Barth, J. L., & Shermis, S. S. (1977). Defining the social studies. Arlington, VA: National Council for the Social Studies. CER (1996). The report on education reform. Taipei, Taiwan: CER. Chang, C. (1999, April 12). Scholars and university professors questioned the Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum. The China Times, p. 5.

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Chang, E. (2001, December 17). So-called education reform: Gaps between the ideal and the real. United Daily News, p. 6. The China Post Staff (2001, December 16). Two-day education conference gets off to boisterous start. The China Post, p. Al. Doong, S. (2001, November). Reconstructing political education in Taiwan. Paper presented at the International Conference on Citizenship and Teacher Education, Taipei, Taiwan. Hsu, C. (2001, December 17). Reformists know nothing about students' pain and pressure. United Daily News, p. 6. Jang, C. (2001, December 17). Education reform without consensus. United Daily News, p. 6. Lia, Y. (1999, April 27). Three-in-one social studies would be 'neither fish nor fowl'. The China Times, p. 15. Liu, M. (2001 ). The development of civic values: Case study of Taiwan. Internationaljournal of Educational Research, 35, 45-60. Ministry of Education (1993). Curriculum standards for elementary schools. Taipei, Taiwan: Ministry of Education. Ministry of Education (1995). Curriculum standards for junior high school. Taipei, Taiwan: Ministry of Education. Ministry of Education (2000). The nine-year integrated curriculum guidelinesfor social studies. Taipei, Taiwan: Ministry of Education. Ministry of Education (2001). Education statistics of the Republic of China. Taipei, Taiwan: Ministry of Education National Council for the Social Studies. (1994). Curriculum standards for social studies: Expectations of excellence. Washington, DC: National Council for the Social Studies. Nine-year integrated curriculum. [On-line discussion]. SCTnet. Available: http://sctnet.edu.tw/ nineyear/index.php (in Chinese) Pan, J. (1999, April 22). Nine-Year Integrated Curriculum criticized severely by scholars. The China Times, p. 7

Endnotes The basic competence test is a new testing system which is designed to relieve students from excessive academic pressure in the future. Under the new system, the tests are held twice annually, and students can choose to take the tests once or both times before utilizing their preferred test results to apply to schools. Unlike the decisive influence of the joint examination system, the score of BCT is only one of the requirements for application. Recommendation letters and extra-curriculum performance are also required. The content of the tests features independent thinking instead of rote learning. The MOE controls the national curriculum for elementary and secondary schools through its Curriculum Standards Revision Committee, which is composed of university professors, school teachers, and educational administrators. The MOE enforces curriculum standards in order to ensure the overall quality of schooling. These standards prescribe the goals, time allocation, scope and sequence, and implementation guidelines for each subject.

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