Sat, Aug 08, 2015 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Education reform: More is needed

On Aug. 4, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) called a meeting between government and opposition lawmakers to discuss the opaque adjustment of the high-school curriculum guidelines that has been a source of so much turmoil over the past year.

Two agreements were reached in principle. From the standpoint of the general public, the compromise reached during the talks must be clearly explained and there must be no ambiguity.

When it comes to the first volume of textbooks that is to be used when the new school term starts in September, teachers must, at the very least, be allowed to choose the books they wish to teach from.

As far as the second and following volumes of the books are concerned, the ongoing review process should be halted immediately.

As to Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華), there is no reason for him to continue to cling to his post.

These three suggestions offer an approach to the current stalemate and it is to be hoped that all quarters of society might pool their ideas and urge the government and the opposition parties to work together to give students the right to an education without a political agenda.

The agreement reached by the legislative party caucuses suggests that the Ministry of Education, in accordance with Article 43 of the Senior High School Education Act (高級中等教育法), should immediately set up a committee to review the curriculum guidelines and allow each school to freely select the textbooks it wants to use for the coming school year.

Student protesters might feel that this is a far cry from the “temporary suspension of the curriculum changes” that they had asked for.

The point of departure for the Democratic Progressive Party legislative party caucus was that the new textbooks should be banned altogether, but the party clearly failed to gain support for that view and the word “again” in the Taiwan Solidarity Union’s suggestion that textbooks should be selected was removed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus.

In view of these developments, it is clear that the opposition parties cannot remain passive and must take action in order to reach their shared goal of suspending the curriculum changes.

The ministry has already admitted that it must conduct its affairs in accordance with the law.

Article 43 of the Senior High School Education Act states that “the central competent authority shall establish a curriculum council to examine senior-high schools’ curricular guidelines.”

It is clear that “a curriculum council to examine senior-high schools’ curricular guidelines” had not been established prior to the implementation of the curriculum guidelines on Aug. 1, and that means that the so-called “minor adjustments” are being changed arbitrarily and in violation of the law.

Since this is the case, why should these curriculum guidelines be followed and why should teachers be made to choose textbooks that have been compiled based on an illegal set of curriculum guidelines?

Strictly speaking, the new textbooks based on these guidelines should be abandoned and each school should use their old textbooks based on the 2012 curriculum guidelines.

Furthermore, the agreement reached by the ruling and opposition parties’ legislative caucuses are the product of compromise, which means that the parties have had to make various political concessions.

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