The educational system in Taiwan is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education. The system produces pupils with some of the highest test scores in the world, especially in mathematics and science. Former president Ma announced in January 2011 that the government would begin the phased implementation of a twelve-year compulsory education program by 2014.
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In 2015, Taiwanese students achieved one of the world's best results in mathematics, science and literacy, as tested by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a worldwide evaluation of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance. Taiwan is one of the top-performing OECD countries in reading literacy, mathematics and sciences with the average student scoring 523.7, compared with the OECD average of 493, placing it seventh in the world and has one of the world's most highly educated labor forces among OECD countries. Although current law mandates only nine years of schooling, 95 percent junior high school students go on to a senior vocational high school, trade school, junior college, or university.
In Taiwan, adhering to the Confucian paradigm for education where parents believe that receiving a good education is a very high priority for Taiwanese families and an important goal in their children's life. Many parents in Taiwan believe that effort and persistence matters more than innate ability if their children want to receive better grades in school. These beliefs are shared by the teachers and guidance counselors and the schools as they regularly keep the parents abreast on their child's overall academic performance in the school. Many parents have high expectations for their children, emphasize academic achievement and actively intervene in their children's academic progress by making sure that their children receive top grades and would go on to great sacrifices including borrowing money to put their child through university.
In June 2016, "vocational high schools" were renamed as skill-based senior high schools. Vocational training and related career choices are introduced through course electives in lower secondary school. Skill-based senior high schools are three-year institutions that are similar to regular senior high schools. Unlike regular senior high schools, they place a heavier emphasis on practical and vocational skills. These schools offer a variety of programs that cater to the needs of students with different abilities and skills. Skill-based senior high schools offer programs that are organized into six different categories: agriculture, industry, business, marine products, everyday life sphere, and art. Graduates of senior skill-based senior high schools can choose to enter the workforce, start their own business, or go on to higher education. Senior skill-based senior high school graduates can apply to junior colleges, institutes of technology, and universities of science and technology. They can also take the national university entrance exams to enter general four-year universities.