The non-profit preschool at National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Taiwan, designed for the children and grandchildren of university employees, held its official opening on the morning of August 10th. The preschool welcomed 48 children between the ages of 3 to 5 years old. To attract young professors and facilitate the childcare needs of the university staff, NTHU President W. John Kao (高為元) allocated the president's residence at No. 10 East Yuan as the site for the preschool.
This strategic decision aims to provide a happy learning and growth experience for the children of faculty and staff within the university's picturesque and academically stimulating environment.
The NTHU preschool is set to begin classes on August 15th. A pre-opening day was organized for new students on August 10th, where numerous parents accompanied their children to get acquainted with the surroundings.
Among them was NTHU Assistant Professor Pin-jui Hsu (徐斌睿) from the Department of Physics, who brought his daughter along. She prepared a small wooden plaque using recycled camphor tree branches found within the preschool. She then invited President Kao to pen his well-wishes, and the plaque was subsequently displayed in the hallway, symbolizing the preschool's commitment to sustainable education.
President Kao expressed his sentiments by writing, "Wishing everyone happiness and good health!" on the wooden plaque. He also accompanied the children into the classroom to familiarize them with the environment. The youngsters enthusiastically formed new friendships, played with toys, and even role played as doctors. They playfully placed a stethoscope on President Kao's chest, mimicking a medical examination.
President Kao noted that the preschool is equipped with loving teachers, modern facilities, and a natural environment, which will enable every young learner to fully develop their creativity, potential, and physical strength through hands-on activities, interactions, and explorations. He emphasized that this environment will undoubtedly offer them a childhood brimming with joyful memories.
President Kao and his wife are both university professors. When their children were just 4 months old, they enrolled them in a full-day childcare center. This experience has given President Kao a profound understanding of the importance of providing a high-quality childcare environment for faculty and staff.
Chih-ying Kuo (郭芝穎), senior executive officer at the K-12 Education Administration under the Ministry of Education (MOE), expressed her delight at seeing such an excellent environment and high-quality management team at NTHU's non-profit preschool. She mentioned that the government aims to provide more affordable educational and childcare services to alleviate the burden on parents, and she conveyed her heartfelt gratitude to NTHU and President Kao for their support of public education policies. In particular, NTHU has a Department of Early Childhood Education, which allows students to leverage their strengths and secure employment upon graduation.
The East Yuan, situated close to the Guangming New Residential Quarter of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), was home to some of the earliest buildings constructed by NTHU upon its re-establishment in Taiwan in 1956. Among these buildings was the president's residence. Several NTHU presidents, including Yi-chi Mei (梅貽琦), Shien-siu Shu (徐賢修), and Chung-laung Liu (劉炯朗), resided there. Today, following its renovation, the space has been transformed into a preschool that retains its historical elements; however, it now has a vibrant ambiance resonating with the laughter and chatter of children.
Chung-hung Hsu (徐宗鴻), the director of the Office of Personnel, noted that the non-profit preschool at NTHU, which serves the children of employees, was established and is currently operating with financial backing from the K-12 Education Administration under the MOE.
Through a transparent selection process, the management of the preschool was entrusted to the Association of Hsinchu Early Childhood Educators. The Association enlisted the expertise of Shu-ying Huang (黃淑英), an alumnus of NTHU's Department of Early Childhood Education, to serve as the principal due to her extensive experience in the field.
Principal Huang mentioned that NTHU preschool enjoys a unique advantage in terms of its environment. Situated within the sprawling 100-hectare university campus, it is surrounded by rich natural ecology, providing ample space for children's activities and natural education. After the renovation of the preschool buildings, she witnessed the first group of guests – Red-billed Choughs – building nests and hatching new life. The fledglings were earnestly learning to fly. In the courtyard, squirrels enjoyed pinecones, while cats, Taiwan Barbets, and Malaysian Night Herons engaged in play.
The preschool's surroundings are adorned with lush green trees, including lemon, papaya, and mango trees. There is even a small farm where children can plant crops like eggplants, cucumbers, and green and red peppers.
Principal Huang mentioned that in the future, NTHU preschool will make full use of campus resources. They plan to take the children to visit the butterfly garden, frog house, plum garden, and fern garden within the campus. As many parents of the preschool children are university professors with expertise in various fields such as astronomy, biology, and the arts, they also hope these parents can frequently volunteer and participate in their children's education.
President Kao reminisced about visiting his children's kindergarten to provide snacks and tell stories. He expressed a desire to volunteer at NTHU preschool in the future as well.
Principal Huang mentioned that NTHU preschool places the utmost emphasis on character education and life education. The goal is to cultivate the student's problem-solving abilities and foster positive reading habits. In the future, they plan to allocate at least half an hour each day for physical activities. They also intend to introduce diverse courses such as woodworking and cooking into the curriculum.
As the parent of a new student at the preschool, Assistant Professor Hsu from the Department of Physics mentioned that finding a suitable kindergarten in either Hsinchu County or Hsinchu City is definitely a challenging task. On behalf of the parents, he expressed deep appreciation to President Kao for his generosity in offering his residence for the betterment of the faculty and staff's children.
Hsu noted that having a childcare solution conveniently situated on campus is undoubtedly a boon for young faculty members. Upon learning of the good news, he promptly registered his daughter for enrollment.
Hsu's household registration is in Hsinchu City, but his daughter previously attended preschool in Taipei. He and his wife often had to commute between Hsinchu and Taipei for drop-off and pick-up. Now, the family can finally reunite in Hsinchu. He believes that the spacious outdoor activity area at NTHU preschool distinguishes it from other preschools, and he has been eagerly anticipating enrolling his daughter there.
Director Hsu from the Office of Personnel mentioned that NTHU preschool prioritizes the admission of children belonging to the university's faculty and staff. If there are vacant slots, they also accept applications from the children of employees working at nearby public and private institutions. Currently, all 48 spots have been filled, with a quarter of the children coming from outside the university. The monthly fee for the preschool amounts to NT$ 2,000, which is lowered to NT$ 1,000 for the second child, and waived entirely for the third child and any subsequent siblings.
Chairperson Yu-Lin Hsue (許玉齡) of the Association of Hsinchu Early Childhood Educators is a retired professor of NTHU (formerly known as National Hsinchu University of Education, NHCUE, prior to merging with NTHU in 2016), where she was part of the Department of Early Childhood Education.
Twenty-three years ago, during her tenure at the university, Hsue established the precursor to the Association of Hsinchu Early Childhood Educators, which was initially known as the "NHCUE Alumni Association of the Department of Early Childhood Education." The aim was to assist students in bridging the gap between theory and practice. Many of the association's teachers are alumni of NHCUE. Following the merger of NHCUE and NTHU, they have returned to their alma mater to contribute, a gesture that holds significant meaning for all involved parties.
Chairperson Hsue pointed out that the Association of Hsinchu Early Childhood Educators has a wealth of experience in managing non-profit preschools. They have effectively managed 13 kindergarten projects commissioned by various entities, including the Hsinchu City Government, the Hsinchu Science Park Bureau, and the Ministry of National Defense's Reserve Command.
The inauguration of the non-profit preschool for the children of NTHU employees took place on August 10th.
Left to right: Principal Shu-ying Huang (黃淑英), Section Chief Mei-hsin Wu (吳美欣) of the Special and Preschool Education Section of the Hsinchu City Government's Department of Education, Chairperson Yu-Lin Hsue (許玉齡) of the Association of Hsinchu Early Childhood Educators, Deputy Director Pin-shan Chang (張品珊) of the Hsinchu City Government's Department of Education; Senior Executive Officer Chih-ying Kuo (郭芝穎) of the K-12 Education Administration under the MOE, President W. John Kao (高為元), Vice President Chen-fu Chien (簡禎富), Vice President for General Affairs Hsiang-kuang Chang (張祥光), Director of the Office of Personnel Chung-hung Hsu (徐宗鴻), and District Chief Chiang Chao (趙強) of Guang Ming district.
The new student representative, A. P. Pin-jui Hsu's (徐斌睿) daughter, prepared a small wooden plaque and handed it to President W. John Kao (高為元), asking him to write a blessing.
President W. John Kao (高為元) (far right) extended his blessings to A. P. Pin-jui Hsu (徐斌睿) (2nd from the left), hoping that their family will have joyful memories at the NTHU preschool.
President W. John Kao (高為元) wrote “Wishing everyone happiness and good health!” on the wooden plaque and also drew a flower on it.
NTHU preschool is lush with greenery. A teacher was playing children's songs and leading the children in dance.
A young child pretended to be a doctor and placed a stethoscope on President W. John Kao's (高為元) chest for a "medical examination."
President W. John Kao (高為元) (2nd from the right) joined the children in a game of feeding frogs.
On August 10th, the NTHU preschool organized a new student experience day, giving the children the opportunity to become acquainted with the surroundings beforehand.
The NTHU preschool arranged a new student experience day event on August 10th, during which the children enjoyed themselves while playing.
On August 10th, the NTHU preschool hosted a new student experience day, and one of the children attentively engaged with the teaching materials.
The NTHU administrators had a light-hearted moment and took a photo together in front of a restroom adorned with panda decorations. Right to left: President W. John Kao (高為元), Vice President Chen-fu Chien (簡禎富), Vice President for General Affairs Hsiang-kuang Chang (張祥光), and Director Chung-hung Hsu (徐宗鴻) of the Office of Personnel.
The NTHU preschool boasts an expansive green area where children can run and play freely.