Taiwan's reforms of the last decade may offer some lessons for locals Hong Kong should brush political considerations aside and increase education links with Taiwan, as well as the outside world, academics have said. The call came after Professor Lee Yuan-tseh, Nobel Laureate in chemistry and the mastermind of Taiwan's education reforms since the mid-1990s, gave two lectures at Chinese University this month. Professor Hau Kit-tai, who heads the Department of Educational Psychology at Chinese University, said Taiwan and Hong Kong shared many similarities in their education systems. But political barriers made official visits between Taiwan's Education Ministry and the Education and Manpower Bureau (EMB) difficult, he said. 'We can have a lot to learn from Taiwan, which launched its education reform years before the mainland and Hong Kong,' said Professor Hau. Both places were strongly influenced by Western-style education. 'While Hong Kong's education system is largely a product of the colonial legacy, a large number of educators in Taiwan were educated in the United States, Britain, Japan, and France during the last few decades,' he said. Foreign influence in the mainland's education system remained limited, although it had been the primary source of overseas students for many US universities in recent years, he added. Taiwan, like Hong Kong, had an exam-oriented schooling system where going to university was seen as the only route to success, he said. This was different from the mainland, where the situation differed from region to region. The student population in Singapore, meanwhile, was made up of a mix of nationalities and might not make as good a model for the SAR. Law Wing-wah, associate education professor at University of Hong Kong, encouraged EMB officials to take the opportunity to meet Taiwan education officials in exchange activities organised by universities and schools. 'The education reforms in both places demonstrated a democratic progress with participation from different sectors of society,' he said. But he also stressed it was equally important for the officials to see more from countries elsewhere. Philip Hui Kwok-fai, a lecturer of education policy and administration at Hong Kong Institute of Education, said it was worthwhile for EMB officials to invest more time in attending international events where they could meet counterparts from around the world. Dr Hui, who recently went to Paris to attend a Unesco International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) training workshop on school planning for educators and government officials, said: 'My impression is that the EMB has little participation in these training workshops, which I think would be very useful for its officials who have little experience in the field.'