Sun, Apr 26, 2015 - Page 12 News List

Taipei Watcher: Hawking a 7-Eleven education

The large number of higher education institutions has turned students into consumers and teachers into salespeople

By Eddy Chang  /  Staff reporter

To achieve this, four strategies were drawn up: forcing under-performing universities to close down, introducing teachers into other domains or industries, encouraging schools to develop their own characteristics and promoting school cooperation to integrate educational resources. However, the success of the program lies in whether the MOE can effectively implement it.

For example, the MOE’s policy is expected to throw as many as 11,000 full-time and countless part-time university professors into unemployment in the next few years. Despite the ministry’s promise to protect teachers’ rights, some private universities are already firing teachers.

A group of laid-off teachers staged a protest in front of the MOE in mid-January, accusing Yu Da University of Science and Technology (育達科大) in Miaoli County of illegally firing over a dozen senior teachers to save costs when two departments stopped recruiting students last year.

“Many of the laid-off faculty were named outstanding teachers in the past, but the MOE directly approved the school’s dismissal plan without reviewing our performance,” said Hu Kuei-ling (胡桂玲), a lecturer who was dismissed after teaching at the school’s Department of International Business for over 14 years when it suddenly stopped recruiting students last year.

According to Article 15 of the Teachers’ Act (教師法), when dealing with a course or organizational adjustment, the “school or the authorized educational authorities will first help transfer those qualified teachers who would like to continue teaching or have other suitable work.”

But the university simply fired Hu and other full-time teachers while hiring part-time teachers to save money. The protesters said that the school did not even hold any teacher’s review committee meeting as required by law.

PROTECTING TEACHERS’ RIGHTS

Although the MOE promised to hold a meeting with school and teacher representatives in July last year, it failed to keep its promise and rashly approved the school’s dismissal plan in January this year. None of the teachers had a chance to defend him or herself.

The Taiwan Higher Education Union criticized the MOE for acting like an “accomplice” for schools by approving the flawed and illegal dismissal plan.

Encouraged by the government’s higher education policy in the past, many great talents studied hard to earn their doctoral degrees and then devoted themselves to their schools and students wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, the MOE plans to close down dozens of universities in the next few years, and Taiwan’s higher education crisis is about to explode soon.

The MOE should protect the rights of schools and students. But it shouldn’t be at the expense of teacher’s rights. More substantial action must be taken to prevent unjust dismissals from occurring in the future.

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