Written by Viola van Onselen and Tsung-Yi Lin. How does it feel to walk through a desert-like landscape of highly dynamic dunes, and how can Virtual Reality educate people in an interactive way about such an environment? You can now experience this in a new local geopark of Taiwan, the ‘Caota Sand Dunes.’ This geopark promotes the values of coastal dunes, and ongoing research explores new management strategies, local community involvement and the geological history of this environment. This short article highlights the potentials of dunes, the status of dune environments in Taiwan and how this local geopark can set an example as a foundation for Nature-based Solutions.
Written by P. Kerim Friedman. We often assume that all language learning serves the same purpose: communicating with native speakers of the target language. The truth is that this is not always the case. There are many other reasons people might decide to learn a language: It might be a requirement for school, work, or citizenship. A philosopher might want to read German, and a linguist might only desire to learn enough Japanese to analyse the language’s grammatical or phonetic structure. Many people worldwide learn Hebrew, Latin, or Arabic as part of their religious training and only use those languages in that limited context.
Written by Elsa Sichrovsky. While government stipulations may appear to establish a strong structure of support and resources for students with a disability, the situation on the ground is often far from ideal. Most schools lack the trained staff and financial resources actually to implement IEPs for children with special needs. Many schoolteachers are already overloaded with large classroom sizes, stringent demands and requests from parents, and hosting extracurricular activities such as contests and art projects. With a child who has special needs added to the classroom comes the added stress of managing Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and attending IEP meetings with special education professionals and parents.
Written by Ming-shan Lee. Although single-parent families are increasingly common in Taiwan, this family-structure generally remains under-discussed in the public discourse and – if discussed – is framed negatively. Such stigma confounds other challenges that these families already face. Through family interviews, I have been trying to understand better the experience of such pressures, stigma and challenges.
Written by Peijun Guo. As the rumbling from the exhaust engine ripped through the peaceful night, many youths are gathered in convenience stores and community parks of Taipei’s Wanhua district. Some smoke, some mess around, and then eventually the group moves on to the next place to hang out and waste some time. This group of youths who do not get on well at school and who wander about the city streets are part of the background murmur of parts of urban Taipei. They wander about as if they are waiting for something, whether it is to go to school, to find a job, or just for the juvenile detention center to take them in.
Written by Natasha Heller. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges that the world faces. A United Nations report has cautioned that greenhouse gas emissions due to human activity are at a record high, “with no signs of slowing down.” Many nations are recording weather extremes, higher average temperatures and rising seas. Meanwhile, the first wave of increasing numbers of climate refugees points to how a changing environment will reshape human life.
Written by Dorothy I-ru Chen. Ethnocentrism is often found in a highly homogenous society like Taiwan. There have been stereotypes and bias against new immigrant children over the years. Studies conducted in the early days suggested that these children’s academic achievements were lagging. Moreover, these studies failed to recognise the problem may lie within schools which are not capable of meeting the needs of children from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Written by Ruo-Fan Liu. If you travel to Taiwan in February or July, you will probably hear people talk about their children’s exam scores in MRT stations, coffee shops, and traditional markets. These days, high schoolers are busy applying for colleges, sustaining admissions from selective universities, and hoping that what happens at this stage in their life will set themselves apart from peers in the future. Since the Taiwanese Government expanded higher education and diversified admission channels for different kinds of students, this process has become more complex, and admission rules are continually changing.
Written by Yi-hui Lee and Kai-chieh Yang. As a result of geographic and economic factors, educational recourses have long been distributed unevenly in Taiwan. This has long caused some disquiet. The effect of this recourse inequality worsens at every stage of the education system and severely hampers class mobility. The new “school-determined curriculum,” which is so central to the 2019 curricula reforms, will change many of the compulsory class requirements for high-schoolers in Taiwan. With inequality being such a clear issue, it is essential to ask: what affect will this have on the uneven recourse distribution across schools?
Written by Jen-Chen Chao. Up until the 1990s, all university applicants in Taiwan were allotted university places based solely on their test scores on a standardised exam. This was generally seen as leading to a high-pressure environment in which students had to prepare endlessly for a high-stake test. Recent attempts by the Government have tried to alleviate some of this pressure whilst also promote the learning and developments of students.
Written by Kenneth H. Chen. My fieldwork uncovered the critical functions played by Taiwanese education agents in sending international students abroad. These education agents served as mediators of students and parents’ feelings, emotions, and relationship with others. Studies show that middle-class parents and children are calculative and anxious about seeking college education abroad.
Written by Tobi Oshodi. China has positioned itself among many African leaders as the most strategic player on the continent; a leading development partner. As the former Senegalese President, Abdoulaye Wade, bluntly put it: a one hour meeting with former Chinese President Hu Jintao in the executive suite of his hotel in Berlin was more useful than the G8 meeting “where African leaders were told little more than that G8 nations would respect existing commitments.”