Historical Influences to Taiwan (Dutch rule through Japanese colonization)
Taiwan has had many historical and cultural influences to its education system. Formally the Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, and other nations colonized it, which means that its education system has gone through many phases and influences.
The first of these outside influences occurred while the Dutch were in control of the island from 1624-1662 at this time the island of Taiwan was referred to as Dutch Formosa. The focus on the education at the time was seen as more of a religion missionary effort towards the aboriginal tribes. The Dutch colonization of Taiwan made the island into a major trade destination. Which also meant that other nations because to vie for it’s control. Following the Dutch rule there was a brief occupation by the Spanish.
Next various Chinese Dynasties established Han-Chinese administrations on the island. These were all short lived, but brought about a large-scale migration of Hand people to Taiwan, and the numbers continued to increase during the Machu Empire in the 18th century.
The Japanese took control of the island in 1895 and when the Ch’ing dynasty lost in the Sino-Japanese war and ceded control to them. Their rule continued until after World War II. Since then the island has gone by the name of Taiwan, though it’s official name is The Republic of China, and is not recognized by most international organizations.
Due to the many political influences that the island has been through, it’s not surprising how diverse the people and culture of Taiwan is.
Education post-Japanese colonization
Each nation that took control of Taiwan in the past has used education in some part to influence the people and establish their new rule on the island. The Dutch used this opportunity in a missionary setting, teaching scripture to the aboriginal tribes.
When the Japanese left in 1945, the Kuomingtang (KMT) took control of the island. They decided to push a full “Chinese education” as they wanted to rid Taiwan of all former Japanese influence. This meant that no Japanese could be used in schools or governmental agencies. Instead Mandarin Chinese was to becoming the official language of the island.
This education system that the KMT government pushed focused on Chinese civilization as being the epitome of world civilizations. All subjects were focused on China, including: language, literature, geography, and history. In primary and secondary schools, any books that were related to Taiwanese history were strictly forbidden, and necessary topics about Taiwan kept to a minimum. While at first there were no immediate objections to this, or other actions by the KMT, only 2 years later the “228 incident” occurred.
On February 28, 1947, an uprising occurred, due to unrest over corrupt KMT government policies, the inciting incident involving a cigarette vendor and government officials. The uprising lead to the KMT “White Terror” period, a martial law that lasted from 1949-1987. During this time thousands of citizens vanished, died, or were imprisoned. Up until the 1990’s this was a time period that was taboo to discuss and was not taught in the educational system.
After the events of 228 and the martial law, there was a huge shift in the Taiwanese cultural beliefs, as many citizens no longer saw China as their “motherland” and began to have serious doubts about their relationships with the Chinese government.
After the Martial Law
In 1988, the martial law was lifted, and the political power was shifted to Lee Tung-hui, the first native Taiwanese. After this time there has been an increase in those identifying as Taiwanese, rather than Chinese or Chinese-Taiwanese. (20% in the early 1990s, 36% in 2000, to 60% in the latest poll, 2006.)
Due to the shifting social views, the education system, which was previous China-centered, as also changed. However, it is at the same time hampered by the political arguments about whether Taiwan should remain separated from or reunite with the mainland. For more about the current educational system see the next section, contemporary educational systems.
Taiwan’s Educational Reform and the Future of Taiwan. (2007, March 3). Retrieved November 20, 2015, from http://english.moe.gov.tw/content.asp?cuItem=7045&mp=2