Sun, Jul 26, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Taiwanese youth creating new era

By Na Su-phoh 藍士博

In response to the arrogance of the Ministry of Education, which refuses to withdraw its “micro-adjustments” to the high-school curriculum guidelines, students from nearly 300 high schools as well as members of educational and social groups surrounded the ministry on Wednesday evening in a determined display of their demands. Not only was this a rare sight, it could also be seen as advance notice of a new era.

A publication entitled Taiwan Youth (台灣青年) was founded in Tokyo almost a century ago, on July 16, 1920. Funded by several landlords, such as Tsai Hui-ju (蔡惠如) and Lin Hsien-tang (林獻堂), the magazine was published by a group of Taiwanese studying in Japan, including Tsai Pei-huo (蔡培火), Lin Cheng-lu (林呈祿) and Peng Hua-ying (彭華英).

By using the word “youth” in its name, the magazine showed an affinity with earlier organizations, such as Young Italy and Young China (少年中國) and publications such as the New Youth (新青年).

Later, the magazine was transformed into the publications Taiwan (台灣), Taiwan Minpao (台灣民報) and, finally, the Taiwan New Minpao (台灣新民報), serving as the main channel for publications related to the new literature and cultural movement in Taiwan, and a battlefield for the anti-Japanese culture movement.

In this era, young Taiwanese were outstanding as they shined in both cultural and political domains. Although the governments before and after World War II had a strict and conservative attitude toward national education, “Taiwan awareness” took root and sprouted in the educational domain following Taiwan’s first change in government in 2000. Hence, the high-school curriculum “micro-adjustments” that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government has insisted on in recent years and that have caused a series of disputes, can be seen both as a transformation and continuance of the Chinese colonization of Taiwan’s educational system and as the last attack of a dying beast.

Regardless of how controversy over the “micro-adjustments” to the high-school curriculum ends, the issue has succeeded in motivating people in cultural circles, professors, writers, and high-school history and civil ethics teachers opposed to the adjustments to protest in public. Even senior-high and vocational school students are taking concrete action and joining the campaign to show their determination to safeguard educational autonomy, and that is an unexpected positive result.

What deserves people’s greater attention is that, apart from the past focus on political and economic issues, young Taiwanese have extended their focus of attention to environmental, media, educational and cultural issues. They have displayed a broader intellectual approach and vision than older generations. That being so, perhaps it is possible to optimistically conclude that a new era is undoubtedly coming; the door has already been kicked opened.

Na Su-phoh is a volunteer worker at the Northern Taiwan Society.

Translated by Eddy Chang

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