Taiwanese teachers stressing over low birth rate

Nearly 80 percent of teachers are worried that the low birth rate in Taiwan will affect their teaching career, according to a survey conducted by the King Car Education Foundation prior to Teacher's Day. The random survey collected 1,135 valid samples. It yielded a 95 percent confidence level and a margin error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Some 50.5 percent of the teachers in the survey were "seriously anxious" that they might be transferred to another school or laid off, while another 27.5 percent said they were "extremely anxious”.

When asked what the worst problems at their schools were, 94 percent of respondents said that students needed to develop good ethics and 70 percent of them said the traditional value of showing respect to teachers is going downhill.

83 percent or so said they were worried about campus bullying, while 34.8 percent of them stated in the survey that they were concerned with students' involvement in gang violence.

Meanwhile, for problems encountered in class, 44 percent of the teachers said their students showed little desire for learning and 84 percent felt that the quality of students has gradually declined.

Joyce Tseng, general director of the foundation, said the low birth rate and higher expectations in both students and teachers have put much pressure on the teaching faculty. Despite the mounting pressure, some 79.7 percent of the teachers are determined to stick to their career.

Some 2.8 percent of those polled did not want to make teaching their life-long career, while 17.5 percent of the teachers are indecisive.

Starting next year, local teachers from middle schools and elementary schools will have to pay income taxes. Commenting on the upcoming tax policy and the possible reduction in schools in the future, some teachers have suggested the government lower the ratio of students to teachers and hire more faculty members with the tax money to raise both teaching quality and the employment rate of qualified teachers.

In 2009, Minister of Education Wu Ching-ji predicted that more than 30 percent of local universities will be out of business in the next 12 years if the declining birth rate worsens. Taiwan's total fertility rate dropped to 0.91 in 2010 -- the lowest rate the country has ever seen and one of the lowest in the world.