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Taiwan faces accelerating decline in certified teachers

Teacher certification courses consistently below quota, fewer students attracted to teaching as profession

(Pixabay photo)

(Pixabay photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s universities are experiencing a concerning shortage in the number of students enrolling in courses related to education and teaching certification.

A number of factors have made the teaching profession increasingly unattractive to students considering different career options, reported CNA. In the coming years, the government will need to seriously focus efforts on attracting new teachers to the profession to maintain the necessary number of teaching professionals in Taiwanese society, per the report.

According to Lin Shuo-chieh (林碩杰), chair of the National Federation of Education Unions, the trend of teaching-related education programs in Taiwan shows a “cliff-like decline” which constitutes a national crisis. Lin argues that in the modern age, teaching is no longer considered a respected profession as it was in previous generations.

Issues such as low salaries, reformed laws related to retirement and pensions, as well as pressure from parents and peers have contributed to a slow but steady decline in aspiring young teachers. Lin adds that in the digital age, viral videos of students disrespecting and defaming teachers are frequently found online, further reducing the attraction of teaching as a profession.

According to statistics, teacher accreditation courses have consistently been below the anticipated quota for almost a decade.

Between 2013 and 2015, that number hovered around 97%, or between 2 to 3.5 points below the quota. In 2016, the number dropped over 10 points, with only 88% of students enrolled in teacher certification courses successfully completing them.

Since then, the number of teachers obtaining certification versus the number initially enrolled has never risen above 93%. What’s more, the trendline established over the last several years is not encouraging, going from 89% in 2017 and dropping steadily to only 84% in 2021.

Despite the efforts of universities to expand enrollment quotas and diversify curriculum, the numbers continue to slide. This reflects the difficulty of retaining talent in the profession, says Lin, and indicates a looming crisis for Taiwan’s educational institutions.

The CNA report notes that teachers of science and technology courses are particularly sought after, as their knowledge and talents are certain to be better rewarded by working in other industries.

Many argue that the extra year or two of coursework required to achieve certification is seen as unreasonable by many university students, further dissuading them from the teaching profession.

If Taiwan is unable to incentivize more students to enter the field, then the Ministry of Education may be forced to loosen certification criteria. Alternatively, the government might need to allow local school districts more latitude to contract non-certified teachers to fill critical vacancies.