The debates in the Examination Yuan over the scope of the test on the subject of "national history and geography" in the qualification exam of entry-level civil servants next year highlights the fundamental problem of national identification within Taiwan -- which has become the root of many problems here. Just what exactly is the "national history and geography" of this country?
\nIn other countries of the world where people do not have a self-contradictory and confused national identity, this would be a simple question that even elementary school children could answer. However, this is not the case in Taiwan, where not even those with PhD degrees in history and geography can necessarily give the right answer.
\nThe question is this: Does the country's national history and geography mean Taiwan's history and geography? The common-sense answer would of course seem to be "yes." Unfortunately, too many people in Taiwan do not seem to have that kind of basic common sense. In national examinations at all levels, ranging from qualification examinations for civil servants to entry examinations for senior high schools and universities, Chinese history and geography continues to be tested as "national history and geography." Moreover, national history and geography textbooks used in schools of all levels also focus predominantly on Chinese history and geography.
\nIn fact, even Mongolia, which is an independent country formally recognized by the world, is treated as part of this country in these tests and textbooks. Anyone who so much as bothers to suggest or recommend that the definition of "national history and geography" be redefined to conform with reality is condemned for blasphemy. That is exactly what has happened in the current debate in the Examination Yuan.
\nLin Yu-Ti (
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