Taiwan, US eye closer education partnership

A delegation organized by U.S.-based Thurgood Marshall College Fund is in Taiwan on a seven-day visit to strengthen bilateral higher education cooperation across a spectrum of areas.

“This is an exciting opportunity and we look forward to growing the relationship,” TMCF founder N. Joyce Payne said Sept. 12 in an interview with Taiwan Today.

“We are working with three world-class universities here … we want to talk about how we can do a better job at transforming opportunities for students around the world and producing global citizens that can contribute to the economic prosperity of Taiwan and also the U.S.”

Headed by Payne, the delegation comprises Johnny C. Taylor Jr., TMCF president and CEO, as well as representatives from Alabama State University, Alcorn State University and North Carolina A&T State University. These schools are members of the 47 historically black public colleges and universities represented by TMCF in forging partnerships with international tertiary education institutions.

The purpose of the visit is to draft action plans with National Central University, National Tsing Hua University and National Taipei University of Technology on launching exchange programs for students and faculty members. It is being conducted under a letter of intent signed June 20 in New York between the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office and TMCF to set up communication channels with ROC government-funded Taiwan Academy.

“We are planning to work with the NCU, NTHU and NTUT on launching summer courses, programs for U.S. students to study in Taiwan, and training projects on improving U.S. teacher quality,” Payne said.

But this is not the first trip by TMCF to Taiwan. A delegation from the fund visited in March and toured seven of the nation’s top-ranking universities, Payne said.

“Our ongoing interest in Taiwan underscores a firm commitment to partnering with local institutions in bolstering exchanges in agriculture, engineering, mathematics, and science and technology.

“We want this to be successful. We want to make it a strong program, a solid partnership,” she said. “We also want your students to be on our campuses and your faculties to understand the African-American culture. The rich culture we have is very similar to the old and rich culture that you have.”

According to Payne, education is the great equalizer. “It is not only the equalizer for American students, it is the equalizer for Taiwan because the economic force we see in Taiwan is driven by excellent universities.

“Taiwan has made a commitment, an unwavering commitment to educate the populous. It’s making a difference in your economy, culture and producing global citizens.”

Echoing Payne’s remarks, Taylor said U.S. universities and students can learn much from Taiwan, including its prestigious and well-managed education systems, leading role in science and technology studies, as well as successful experience in commercializing research into entrepreneurship.

TMCF member universities can also share their expertise in such areas as modern agriculture and nanotechnology with their Taiwan counterparts, he added.

“We are looking for schools that complement us,” Taylor said. “We don’t want schools that are just like us because we want a different experience.”

On why TMCF decided to work with Taiwan, Taylor said the fund felt there is an underrepresentation of the great potential and opportunities the country has to offer.

"Everyone is in mainland China and frankly, it felt a little bit crowded," Taylor said. “There is a huge opportunity here and there are not a lot of people going after that opportunity.”

TMCF is planning to launch a Thurgood Marshall Day in Taiwan early next year and a grand fair with African-American celebrities to officially kick off the partnership.

According to Taylor, it is expected that the first group of U.S. students will arrive in Taiwan for summer courses in 2014. (RC-JSM)

Source: TaiwanToday.tw