In response to rapid changes of our society, the role of Family Education Center has been adjusted and changed accordingly. Originally established as the Parenting Education Inquiry Center in 1987, the Family Education Center acquired its current name to cater to the needs of the external environment and internal organizations. In August 2007, the Center was formally established as a Level 2 Agency of Hsinchu City Family Education Center. All these efforts demonstrate that family education is not a static service and will undergo prompt changes in response to the external environment to satisfy the psychological health of fellow residents.
Surveys of social development trends in Taiwan reveal that waves of modernization have transformed family structures and a growing number of single parent and dual-earner families. Housework hours are growing for wives, while parents worry about not spending enough time with their children as this may affect parent-child relationships and interactions. All these may affect marriages as well as family relationships. Advancements in social and medical technologies meant that people are leading longer lives. The number of senior citizens in Taiwan numbered 2,343,092 individuals as of the end of December 2007, making up 10.21% of the entire population. Senior citizens more than 65 years of age residing in Hsinchu make up 9.21% of the entire population in 2007 as well, showing that the number of senior citizens in the country is growing. Taiwan is already listed as an aging society. In a day where robots have largely replaced many manual laborers, age has become a symbol of experience and wisdom. The promotion of education for senior citizens not only reminds society to place importance on their learning and development, but also instructs younger people to provide care for senior folk and bridge the gulf between different age groups. Old people should not be regarded as a burden to society but a treasure for every family. These statistics also showed a great deal of information. A key finding is that when people started leading longer lives, grandparents and grandchildren would spend more time with each other. Giving grandparents with the time to experience and learn new things allow young children with more opportunities to discover this hidden source of wealth within the family. However, most people from eastern cultures still harbor the traditional idea that old people are less useful while many youths tend to obsess over new technologies and information. Both of these factors meant that children tend to interact less with their grandparents, leading to a growing gulf between the generations. These observations clearly show the effects of changes to the environment. Modern societies are increasingly diverse and complex while familial functions are changing with the times. Despite all these transformations, the family remains the center of modern lifestyles and spiritual fulfillment.
Hsinchu City is a world-leading urban center for semiconductor industries. Despite having a large population, most of the residents are immigrants from other counties and cities with white-collar jobs in the high tech industry. Underneath this glamor is the fact that most lack a strong sense of connection to this location. According to the results from the September 2007 survey conducted by CommonWealth Magazine for the ranking of 23 counties and cities throughout Taiwan, Hsinchu City was ranked 1st for satisfaction for public administration and satisfaction for the value placed upon education of the next generation, and was publicly regarded as the 2nd happiest city in the country. In 2007, families in Hsinchu City spent an average of NT$ 64,000 on educational expenses per family, which ranked first in the entire country. This demonstrates the great value that the public places upon education. This is the reason why the city enjoyed significant advantages in promoting family education.
Hsinchu city is divided into 3 districts of the East, North, and Xiangshan districts. The East District has the largest population mainly composed of working-age people, and thus exhibits a higher standard of living. The second largest district in terms of population size would be the North District with shops and commercial businesses followed by Xiangshan District mainly occupied by those engaged in agriculture as well as aquaculture. However, various social problems such as divorce rates and juvenile delinquency have been growing throughout years as a result of changes to family systems, growing number of dual-earner families, increasing stress caused by urbanization and industrialization, and transformations of social values. These issues meant that school and family education should work closely with each other to promote the benefits of implementing preventive family education.
Initially, counseling helpline was the primary service offered by the Hsinchu City Family Education Center. Preventive and promotional activities were later included which then later grew to become 70% of the Center’s efforts. Problem solving modes offered by the counseling helpline could only provide support and companionship. Preventive measures such as active personal education as well as timely adjustments of flexibility and tolerance would result in more effective benefits per efforts invested. Hence, the Family Education Center began actively developing various preventive and promotional activities.
Having spent many years in promotional programs, the Hsinchu City Family Education Center noticed that the level of acceptance for family education promotion programs were higher in the East District due to its geographical factors, higher population densities, and better education backgrounds. Promotional activities in the East District therefore included school-based seminars, family reading groups, and other diverse events. Activities in the North and Xiangshan districts tend to include seminars, conferences, film discussions, parent-child learning, and group reading activities. The 21st century is one of lifelong learning and saw the promulgation of the Family Education Act. The Hsinchu City Family Education Center must change its conventional approaches and gradually transform itself from an executive system to a supervising and planning agency. Relevant resources in the city must be integrated to construct learning networks and promotional models that could be used by the Center.