Mon, Aug 08, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Education reform is still needed for Taiwan

By Northern Taiwan Society, et al.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has put forward a four-stage theory of the development of the Republic of China (ROC): from the ROC in China to the ROC moving to Taiwan, the ROC in Taiwan and now, "The ROC is Taiwan." While what could be called the Taiwan theory inherent in this theory -- the ROC is Taiwan -- is praiseworthy, it also leads to worries over whether this is meant simply as a campaign ploy in for the year-end commissioner and mayoral elections.

In an attempt to get this policy implemented in the nation's education system, we ask the president to instruct Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) that he charge Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) with putting in place a policy to announce that national history means Taiwanese history and national literature, Taiwanese literature. We solemnly suggest the following.

First, Tu should draft a long-term plan making Taiwan the focus of curriculum design, including a curriculum outline for the nine-year compulsory school and a temporary outline for a high school curriculum.

Second, the current training of elementary and junior high school teachers does not comply with the requirements for a consistent curriculum during the nine years of compulsory schooling. The Ministry of Education should suggest measures to remedy this situation.

Concrete adjustments should be made to the training of senior high school teachers in Taiwanese history and literature. This could include, for example, reducing the number of education student enrolled in Chinese departments, or requiring that training in Chinese departments' national literature curriculum must come into compliance with the draft outline.

Third, current topics in the high school entrance exam are based on the junior high school curriculum. This does not comply with the spirit of the outline for a consistent curriculum for the nine-year compulsory school. Local elementary school curriculums should also include a basic knowledge evaluation. The basic test should therefore allow for counties and cities to set their own topics in order to fully comply with the demands for basic knowledge.

We are not advocating the desinicization of education in Taiwan. But Chinese history should be seen as just one part of the overall development of Taiwanese history, but given its proper place insofar as it has influenced Taiwan. Despite Tu's current efforts to increase the Taiwan focus in the nation's education system, these efforts are far from sufficient. Still, they are enough already to be criticized by China-friendly political parties, politicians and media.

These people can't really come out and say that the Taiwanese people should not be allowed to study Taiwanese literature or history. So instead they keep complaining about desinicization or pursue other measures to interfere with and try to bring down Tu.

Most regrettable of all is that the Cabinet has repeatedly tried to use the pretext of controversial issues to remove Tu in order to please these pro-China forces.

During the five years of DPP rule, the Ministry of Education has been led by Ovid Tzeng (曾志朗), who wasn't well liked by the public, Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村), who effected minor improvements and now Tu, who is doing the best he can. If the spirit and knowledge of the sons and daughters of Taiwan remains the same as that of their ancestors, then that is the original sin of education. The Taiwanese people should give cautious and rational consideration to their support for the Cabinet.

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