Li Chen-ching (李振清)


Li Chen-ching (李振清) teaches at Shih Hsin University where he is the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. You can find a picture of him here on my school’s website and another here on the website of the University of British Columbia. Professor Li has a wide range of experience in cultural education. He has a PhD from the University of Hawaii and has taught in the Department of Asian and East European Languages and Cultures at the University of Maryland. While he stated publically that he thinks Taiwanese need to study overseas to gain an international perspective on the world, he has remained a strong promotor of Mandarin learning and has authored 2 textbooks on Business Chinese.

Politically, he has been a vigorous supporter of the DPP and President Chen calling his statements on ethnic strife in Taiwan “visionary” urging him to, “uphold the doctrine of ethnic harmony to not only safeguard but also reinforce the holistic prosperity of Taiwan.” In a Taipei Times editorial, he takes on one of the biggest problems of the DPP by trashing the low quality of professionalism practiced by local media.

What may be of particular interest to readers is until recently, he was the director of the Bureau of International Culture & Education Relations. Much of what the Bureau does concerns overseas study. It makes statements about safety when studying abroad, gives scholarships to Taiwanese who study abroad and advises on policy concerning education and overseas study, and promotes Taiwan education connections with other countries. It is also the branch of the MOE that was looking after the hiring of foreign teachers for public schools.

In case you don’t know, the hiring of foreign teachers has been extremely controversial since its conception back in 2003. The initial problems concerned the intendedly high salaries to be paid to the foreign teachers. This was supposed to be necessary because the program needed so many teachers and they had to be of the highest quality. These problems, even though they seemed significant at the time, came to be seemingly trivial compared with the later problems to emerge. By 2005, the MOE had been able to hire only 22 of the 3300 foreign teachers they had originally envisioned.

Li Chen-ching (李振清…) and the Bureau of International Cultural and Educational Relations have been at the heart of this problem since its conception. It was Li who initially approached the representatives of governments in English-speaking countries to assist the recruitment drive. Li was also at the center of the controversy over whether teachers from India or the Philippines might be hired for these positions. Showing a different side of opinions about internationalization than he did in any of his earlier statements, he had this to say,

“…the decision has not yet been finalized. It is still in the planning process…It’s not up to the MOE to decide whether private cram schools can recruit teachers from these two countries, as these teachers are subject to the Supplementary Education Law…But if these teachers want to teach in the formal education system such as in public primary schools and junior high schools, the MOE has the power to set standards for their qualifications as they have to get a formal teacher’s certificate issued by the ministry,”

And then my favorite,

“if we pay the English teachers using taxpayers’ money, we certainly would like to recruit the best qualified teachers…Teaching English is not just about the language. It is also about language as a culture and language as a society. These factors should also be taken into consideration.”

Although Professor Li is no longer the director, his legacy lives on and the bureau he once headed continues to struggle with the very same problems that it did under his leadership.

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