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Taiwan students protest

MORE than 1,000 students and their parents marched in the streets of Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan Island, yesterday to demand the elimination of elite high schools to reduce the pressure on students trying to gain entry to them.

Taiwan has nine years of mandatory, free education, but the protesters want the public system to be extended to 12 years, so students would not be forced to study so hard to get into high schools.

Education authorities have sought to ease children's school work, but many students still go to cram schools after class, said Hsieh Kuo-ching, head of the Taiwan Parents Alliance, which organized yesterday's protest.

But many parents oppose eliminating elite high schools, fearing it would lead to a drop in educational standards, said Cheng Ruey-cheng, head of Taiwan's education authorities, yesterday.

Protest organizers said they want the government to begin 12-year mandatory education in 2012.

Taiwan has long stressed scholastic achievement for children to guarantee a promising career but educators increasingly are asking whether that pressure, as well as the long-standing practice of studying by rote, has crushed children's curiosity.


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