Sat, Aug 08, 2015 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Education reform: More is needed

Although the guidelines have been adjusted in clear violation of the law, they might be treated as a fait accompli and partially accepted, thus resulting in a decision to allow schools to freely select the textbooks they want to use for this year. If that is the road that is chosen, it needs to be accompanied by a number of supplementary measures in order to minimize the negative consequences.

The first action to be taken regards the volumes still being prepared.

According to the current plan, 80 percent of senior-high school teachers would have selected teaching materials, illegally devised, by as early as May.

The plan as it stands is for the first volumes of textbooks — for history, civics and Chinese — to be used to teach first-year senior-high school students as soon as they return for the new school term in September and teachers in senior-high schools throughout the country to have completed their selection of the newly printed official ministry textbooks by May.

The ministry should make a new announcement, giving all the teachers involved the chance to make a new selection of the textbooks from which they are going to teach their students. It should also allow students some input into the matter by giving them the opportunity to make suggestions to their teachers as to which materials they would like to use.

Any additional costs accrued from changing textbooks at this point should be absorbed by the ministry.

However, this does not go far enough. More needs to be done.

The writing of the second volume of textbooks — which is set to be used from the next school term starting in February next year — and for all the subsequent volumes that are set to be used over the three years of senior-high school, has already been completed. Publishers have already started editing them. They have even started sending them to the National Academy for Educational Research for review.

The second action that should be taken is that the opposition party insists that the ministry make a clear announcement that, before the results of the review committee’s deliberations are announced, the entire editing and review process for the second volume and subsequent volumes is to be put on hold until the curriculum review is completed. The editing of the new textbooks should only continue once this happens, so that they can be completed in line with the conclusions of that review.

During this process, the publishers have been messed about. Resources and money have been wasted as they have been asked to rewrite the official textbooks after only three years, when the original understanding was that they were licensed to produce the 2012 curriculum textbooks for six years.

The blame for this is to be placed entirely at the feet of the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the KMT for their abuses of power and violations of the law.

The final point concerns Wu’s personal style and the dubious choices he has made.

This whole sorry process did not start within Wu’s tenure at the ministry, but he has been more than happy to accept the baton and to push the changes through. As this has been going on, there has been no shortage of voices telling him of the best way to address this situation to get a good result, but he has insisted on doing what Ma would have him do.

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