Transformation of Taiwan's Upper Secondary Education System


  • Hueih-Lirng Laih Su-Lin, Taipei County, Taiwan
  • Ian Westbury University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign



Articulation (Education), Educational Change, Educational History, Educational Policy, Enrollment, Enrollment Trends, Financial Support, Foreign Countries, High Schools, Policy Analysis, Postsecondary Education, School Restructuring


This paper explores the policy issues circling around the structural "transition" in upper secondary education implicit in the twenty-year increase in secondary and third-level school enrollment rates in Taiwan. This expansion has taken place within a secondary school system which is rigidly divided into both general, i.e., academic, and vocational tracks and into public and private sectors: the majority of students are enrolled in the private vocational sector which is only loosely articulated with the university sector. These features of the school system are analysed against the background of social and economic developments in Taiwan as well as public opinion. The analysis suggests that the present structures of school must be "reformed" in ways that will result in a more unified secondary system with both greater public funding and better articulation of all school types with the third level. The policy options that circle around the possibility of such reforms in the areas of curriculum, examination structures and second level-third level articulation are discussed and a policy framework for the reform of the Taiwan secondary education sector is outlined.


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Author Biographies

Hueih-Lirng Laih, Su-Lin, Taipei County, Taiwan

Hueih-Lirng Laih received her doctorate in educational policy studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996 after completing bachelors and masters degree in Chinese literature at the National Taiwan University. She currently has a postdoctoral appointment in the Division of Humanities and Social Science of the National Science Council in Taiwan. She also teaches at the Center for Teacher Training at National Chung-Yang University.

Ian Westbury, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Ian Westbury is a professor of curriculum & instruction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is co- editor of Science, Curriculum, and Liberal Education: Essays by Joseph J. Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, l978, 1981), Contemporary Culture and the Idea of General Education (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, l988), Second International Mathematics Study: Vol. 1: International Analysis of Curriculum (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1989), In Search of More Effective Mathematics Education: Examining Data from the IEA Second International Mathematics Study (Norwood NJ: Ablex Publishing Corp., 1994), and the forthcoming Teaching as a Reflective Practice: The German Didaktik Tradition (Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum). As a comparativist, he has worked with the data from the IEA Second International Mathematics Study and, most recently, on reflective and historical analysis of the German Didaktik tradition. Westbury is general editor of the Journal of Curriculum Studies (JCS) and associate editor of Revista de Estudios del Curriculum, a new Spanish journal that is emerging as a collaboration with JCS. He is a former Vice-President of Division B of AERA and was a member of the editorial advisory board for the AERA-sponsored Handbook of Research on Curriculum.




How to Cite

Laih, H.-L., & Westbury, I. (1998). Transformation of Taiwan’s Upper Secondary Education System. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 6, 18.