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Air Force Elementary Schools Celebrate 90 Years of Talent Cultivation


This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Air Force Elementary Schools (AFES). The AFES originated in the “Affiliated Elementary School of the Central Aviation School” established in 1934 by General Chou, Chih-Jou, Commandant of the Central Aviation School, and boasted 29 schools at its peak. The arrival of the Nationalist Government in Taiwan saw AFES established across the island. From 1966 onwards, the schools were progressively transferred to local governments with names chosen to commemorate martyrs of the Air Force. The AFES cultivated many talents for the nation in those tumultuous times.

In 1934, Gen. Chou, Chih-Jou, the Commandant of Central Aviation School, retained Mr. Chen, Hong-Tao as the principal of the affiliated primary school to cultivate the next generation of talent. In 1937, the Central Aviation School was ordered to relocate west after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. The affiliated primary school was also closed. During the War of Resistance against Japan, Air Force units stationed in remote areas suffered from poor living conditions and had difficulty obtaining proper schooling for their children. Regulations were therefore passed for the establishment of the AFES and associated subsidies so that airmen could concentrate on their training and combat missions. At its peak, the AFES operated 29 schools for the children of Air Force families.

When the War of Resistance was won in 1945, administrative responsibility for the AFES schools was assigned to military district headquarters for the sake of simplicity. In 1946, a total of 16 schools were on record with nearly 3,000 students; by 1948, AFES had increased to 33 schools and nearly 9,000 students.

Air Force units began relocating to air bases in Taiwan at the end of 1948, and their dependents also resettled near the air bases. The Air Force began seeking land nearby to establish new AFES schools so that Air Force children could continue to receive an education. Houses and warehouses left by the Japanese military were converted into classrooms. A total of 13 AFES schools were set up, and many Air Force children benefited as a result. From August 1, 1949, the schools’ teachers were made part of the Air Force establishment. Teachers were required to pass rigorous exams as well. The high quality of the teachers produced excellent academic results with more than 80% of all graduates qualifying for junior high school.

In 1965, the Ministry of National Defense began planning for the transfer of its schools to the local governments. The decision was also made to transfer all AFES by 1967. Due to their nature and history, the names of Air Force martyrs and other symbolic names were given to the schools after their change of organization. On April 7, 1966, the Air Force announced the name of the 13 following schools: Huaishen (Taipei), Chenkang (Taoyuan), Taisi (Hsinchu), Shenshan (Taichung), Chihhang (Chiayi), Chengmin (Huwei), Chihkai (Tainan), Chaohsiang (Gangshan), Chienchiao, Hesheng (Pingtung), Yili (Donggang), Chuchiang (Hualien), and Nanping (Yilan). On August 1, 1966, and 1967, the schools were transferred in two batches to local governments. The AFES faded away into history.

Between the founding of the AFES in 1934 and the completion of its transfer to local governments in 1967, many people worked tirelessly and selflessly behind the scenes for the education of Air Force children. They passed on the legacy of the Air Force and cultivated many future greats. Many AFES graduates would follow their fathers and brothers into military service as well and shoulder the burden of defending the nation. During those tumultuous years, they helped lay the foundations for future generations of the Air Force and set an example for the Armed Forces.

90th anniversary of the Air Force Elementary Schools

Source: Youth Daily News (2024.03.19)