The Development of Special Education and Inclusion in Taiwan: An Example From Asia

The Development of Special Education and Inclusion in Taiwan: An Example From Asia

Cheng-Fen Chang (National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan) and Hui-Ting Wang (National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1431-3.ch009

Abstract

This chapter provides an example from Asia for professionals interested in how culturally responsive education systems have been established for people with disabilities. The chapter begins with the history of special education in Taiwan, continues with the characteristics of the current special education system, and ends with discussion of issues and future development. Readers will find the history and the special education system developed from point to line and then to plane, to form a holistic, comprehensive model. The government, scholars, and parents together have contributed to the Special Education System. The system was influenced primarily by the US and Japan, but also stemmed from the unique Taiwanese culture itself. In addition, the author described different special education teacher training stages and the demands of higher standards of teacher training programs and the necessity for substantial changes. Finally, the authors identified three issues and trends for future development: service extension to both ends, service quality, and evidence-based practices.
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Introduction

Taiwan is an island located in the eastern part of Asia and on the northwestern Pacific Ocean. It is located between the Ryukyu Islands and the Philippine Islands, and across the Taiwan Strait from the mainland of China. More than 70% of Taiwan’s population of about 23 million people live in the five major metropolitan areas on the west coast, among which Taipei is the largest.

Confucius being the greatest educator and the main representative of Confucianism, Taiwan’s education was deeply influenced by his thought. Among the most influential dictates of Confucius’ educational and ideological philosophy were “Teach students in accordance with their aptitude (yīn cái shī jiào),” “Teach all students with no distinction between classes (yǒu jiào wú lèi)” and “Nurture by nature (ìh sìng yang cái)”. Teachers must give different instructions and materials according to the different abilities of students. This philosophy has facilitated the development of special education in Taiwan without obstructions (Ya-Shu, Lovett, & Haring, 2002).

Taiwan’s early enlightenment regarding Special Education and services for people with disabilities may also be due to its geographical location, long history of colonization since the 17th century, and religious influences, resulting in numerous opportunities to experience intimate contact with the world. Taiwan’s commitment to persons with disabilities raised awareness in Asia. Taiwan, the Philippines, Korea, and India unanimously collaborated with 17 other Asian countries to form the Asian Federation for the Mentally Retarded (changed to the Asian Federation on Intellectual Disabilities [AFID] in 2007 in Taipei, Taiwan), which is the largest such Asian organization, with 420 delegates promoting, coordinating and sponsoring activities related to intellectual disabilities in Asia. Since 1973, Taiwan representatives have become two of the seven honorary members of AFID. Taiwan continues to share its experience of promoting equity, equality, and inclusion of people with disabilities via bi-annual conferences in Asia.

Special education in Taiwan has played a leading role in Asia since 1889. This chapter provides an example from Asia for multidisciplinary professionals and special educators interested in how culturally responsive education systems have been established for people with disabilities.

The following presentation starts with the history of special education in Taiwan and its role in Asia, continues by describing the characteristics of Taiwan’s current responsive special education system and pre- and in-service special education teacher training, and concludes with discussion of issues and future development. Readers will find the history and the current system of special education developed from point to line and then to plane, to form a holistic, comprehensive model.

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