Nearly 46 years have passed since a 9-year national education system was implemented in Taiwan in 1968. The 9-year system will now be extended to 12 years and renamed "12-Year Basic Education." From the perspective of school finance, we analyzed and discussed whether the government can afford this tremendous change. It was summarized that (1) primary education should be compulsory, free, and accessible to all. However, because of fiscal regulations and structures, the 9-year national education system has been suffering from an insufficient budget at local levels and has not been entirely free of charge for every student until now. (2) Although several programs for socioeconomically disadvantaged students have been implemented by the Ministry of Education, achievement gaps between rural and nonrural areas, even among students within rural circumstances, remain remarkably wide. The new education plan appears to neglect these two problems. (3) Because expenditure per pupil on postsecondary education in Taiwan is only 70% of the OECD's average, it is reasonable to spend 80% of the new budget at the postsecondary stage. However, more than half of the overall budgets are set to eliminate tuition fees for postsecondary and 5-year-old preschool students, without further increasing any public inputs and simply transferring accounts from private to public. With such a small budget, the zero-tuition policy means to require money to be diverted from other more comprehensive initiatives. (4) Preschool education should be planned as compulsory prior to the postsecondary stage, both theoretically and practically. Four recommendations on school finance are provided for future implementations of 12-Year Basic Education.
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