Premier orders comprehensive inspection of IT protocols at schools

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) has ordered comprehensive inspection of IT protocols at the Ministry of Education (MOE) and schools around Taiwan following the accidental deletion of student data from the “Study History File” program, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said Sunday.


On Saturday, the portfolios and study histories of more than 7,800 high school students, which are stored virtually in a centralized data center, were accidentally deleted during a recent system update.


A total of 7,854 students from 81 high schools have been affected, according to the MOE.


Lo said that upon learning the accident, Su instructed the ministry to rectify the situation and ordered the establishment of a cyber security taskforce to inspect the IT protocols of all education-related agencies.


Since the mistake was made by a research team at National Chi Nan University (NCNU), which the MOE contracted to design and develop the system, how to determine the NCNU’s liability for the problem should be done based on the contract, Lo said, citing Su’s instruction.


The Study History File program was designed to provide high school seniors with an easier way to prepare for college applications under a newly proposed MOE university admissions system that is scheduled to be introduced in 2022.


Through the program, the records of high school students, including extracurricular activities and study grades from each semester are consolidated in a format similar to a personal resume. As a result, the information and grades of each student can be browsed by the nation’s universities when considering admissions.


In response to the incident, the MOE held a virtual press conference on Sunday to explain the situation.


The project manager of the contract, Joshua Hong (洪政欣), explained that for security reasons, the NCNU team had been transferring student files from one workstation to a better protected one since Sept. 5.


However, three of the virtual mainframes were placed on the wrong settings, causing the files to be deleted on Sept. 22. when the mainframes were turned back on, he said.


Hong, who is also a computer science and information engineering professor at NCNU, said that a total of 25,210 files submitted by 7,854 students from 81 schools were involved.


He pointed out that the deleted files contain learning results from academic syllabuses and extracurricular activities from the second semester of the 2020 school year. Basic information and course records were not deleted, he said.


Peng Fu-yuan (彭富源), director-general of the K-12 Education Administration which oversees the program, said that schools affected by the mistake will receive an inventory of the deleted files, so students can cross-reference them and see which information needs to be re-upload.


For results that have already been authenticated, students need to re-upload the files and have them validated by the system to rebuild their portfolio. Where there are validation discrepancies, faculties should help students rebuild their portfolios before they can be resubmitted, according to Peng.


Teachers who have to work overtime with students will be financially compensated, he said, adding that the administration will designate personnel to assist schools and students re-upload files.


During the press event, Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said that while the mistake was made by NCNU personnel, the K-12 Education Administration would also be subject to disciplinary action to ensure no similar incidents happen in the future.


Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

Leave a Reply