At the Cabinet's weekly meeting Thursday, Premier Chen Chien-jen received a briefing from the Ministry of Education (MOE) on the current implementation results of the government's low birth rate measures, as well as a new plan to reduce student-teacher ratios in preschools. The premier said the government has significantly hiked spending on measures designed to address the low birth rate, raising funding from over NT$15 billion (US$492.5 million) in 2016 to more than NT$100 billion (US$3.3 billion) in 2023. As an additional measure, the MOE has formulated a plan to reduce child-teacher ratios in preschools, with a long-term goal of achieving a student-teacher ratio of 12:1.
Starting this year, the government has eliminated means-testing for childrearing allowances and child care subsidies. Salaries and benefits packages for early childhood education and care staff have also been raised and this will encourage workers to stay on in the profession, ensuring that children receive the best possible levels of education and care, the premier said. He also directed the relevant ministries and agencies to take stock of the government's entire suite of measures related to tackling the low birth rate, and to conduct rolling reviews, so as to continue lightening the burden on families raising children and comprehensively improve the quality of the childrearing environment.
To raise the quality of preschoolers' education and lighten the workloads of personnel in child education and care services, the MOE's plan to reduce student-teacher ratios will be promoted according to several principles—minimizing any impact on a household's access to affordable education and care services; gradual implementation according to the capacity of local public education service providers, as well as to the circumstances of different preschools and children of different ages; and applying incentives instead of enforcement for private preschools. The eventual goal of the entire plan is to achieve a student-teacher ratio of 12:1.
The plan is estimated to require NT$13.2 billion (US$433.4 million) in funding from 2024 to 2030. The premier requested the full cooperation of the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics to put together a budget, so that the government can move forward in its efforts to improve preschool education services.