During Taiwan’s long period under authoritarian rule, Taiwanese people were prevented from establishing an identity as a nation,and from raising awareness of Taiwanese culture. After the lifting of martial law, which began the process of economic liberalization and democratization, Taiwan gradually cast off the structures of authoritarian rule. But chauvinistic “Greate China”ideology remained deeply rooted in the education systemand proved highly resistant to change. Because of this, Taiwan’s national identity continued to encounter contradictions. Pragmatism on this issue prevailed , creating a state of latent confrontation between different ideologies and leading to a vicious struggle between political parties. This situation has destabilized the political environment,and led to a loss of trust in the governmentwhile keeping the economy in the doldrums. It has also exposed numerous weaknesses of which China has opportunistically taken advantage. This has created a spirit of defeatism and weakened resistance to China.
In the face of such developments, Taiwan Advocates perceived a need to promote education about democracy and a Taiwan-centered education and culture. Doing so was necessary to counter the diplomatic and military threats constantly directed at Taiwan by the People’s Republic of China, and to give people the intellectual tools to resist the deceptions and illusions of the PRC’s “Greate China” ideology.
This reasoning led Taiwan Advocates to plan the establishment of the Lee Teng-hui School, which would draw on talent from industry, government and academia. Teaching materials would be written and students enrolled with the goal of ultimately inspiring a Taiwan-centered politcal environment, , society, culture, education and globalized economic development.
The Lee Teng-hui School officially opened on June 17, 2003. Its first program was the Leadership Institute program in national policy studies. Subsequently, 11 more programs were developed. A brief description of the programs is provided below:
1. Leadership Institute program in national policy studies
This program is targeted at individuals in every field who wish to promote Taiwanese consciousness. Students are drawn from leaders in many fields. This is one of the longest programs offered by the school, with classes running for three months. After graduation, students return to their respective fields with even greater influence in boosting Taiwanese consciousness.
2. Advanced Institute program in teacher training
To promote Taiwanese consciousness in education and to facilitate the creation of classes withTaiwan-centered content at all levels of the education system, this course aims to foster Taiwanese consciousness among educationalists and lay the foundations for Taiwanese consciousness in the next generation.
3. LeadershipInstitute program in policy studies
This program is aimed at leaders in various fields who seek to establish a greater Taiwanese consciousness and deepen the roots of Taiwan’s democratization. It aims to meet the needs of people from all sectors of society, and with reduced class hours, it is accessible to a wider range of people than some of the longer, more intensive programs.
4. National affairs discussion program
Designed for students 60 –and over who wish to help promote Taiwanese consciousness, this short program aims to develop interaction between students and strengthen their ties with the school. Students are leaders in their respective fields who are passionate about promoting Taiwanese consciousness.
5. Leadership Institute young leaders program
The pillars of our future society are our young people, so one of the most important tasks of the Lee Teng-hui School is to develop young leaders with a strong Taiwanese consciousness to build a democratic and free Taiwan. The response to the first program was very enthusiastic and subsequent programs have often been filled to capacity. Registration for the second session of the program wasso high that two classes needed to be organized. Such enthusiasm was extremely encouraging, and many students from this program have since become the school’s most energetic partners.
6. Leadership Institute program in agricultural economy
Lee Teng-hui, who serves as the principal of the school, is a scholar of agricultural economyand remains engaged in issues surrounding Taiwan’s agricultural sector. He constantly considers the future of Taiwan’s agriculture and hopes to foster a new generation of modern agriculturalists who will work to support agriculture in Taiwan. Because Lee Teng-hui is closely associated with this program, it has generated great interest and attracted the participation of scholars of agriculture, agribusiness entrepreneurs, and agricultural technologists from Taiwan and abroad. Under Lee Teng-hui’s tutelage, they have all gained a greater confidence that Taiwan should and can find its own path of agricultural development.
7. The Lee Teng-hui Tutorial College of Japan and the Lee Teng-hui School of Japan
Members of Japan’s financial, industrial and media sectors who admire Lee Teng-hui have established the Lee Teng-hui School of Japan and the Friends of Lee Teng-hui in Japan. Both institutions conduct occasional study tours to Taiwan.
8. The Lee Teng-hui School program in national affairs for overseas Taiwanese and Taiwan’s young elite overseas
To meet the needs of Taiwanese abroad who remain interested in the country’s affairs and in order to foster an understanding of Taiwan in the next generation of overseas Taiwanese, classes for overseas students were launched in 2004. Many students from overseas returned to Taiwan to participate in this program.
9. Conference on social development for Aboriginal Taiwanese
Former president Lee Teng-hui has long expressed great concern for the development issues faced by Taiwan’s Aboriginal communities. For this conference, the Lee Teng-hui School invited 200 pastors ?and specialists in various fields to discuss issues related to Aboriginal affairs and find solutions to problems faced by Aboriginal communities.
10. Hakka cultural research program
To promote understanding and cooperation between different ethnic groups in Taiwan, the Lee Teng-hui School has organized the Hakka cultural research program to discuss Hakka-related issues.