Sun, Sep 28, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Teachers association set for city-center demonstration

By Jewel Huang and Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The National Teachers' Association (NTA) will launch its "Marching for Children" protest today, calling on teachers all over the nation to take to the streets to demand five requests linked to educational reform, NTA president Lu Hsiu-chu (呂秀菊) said yesterday.

About 6,000 teachers had registered to participate in the march and an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people were expected to turn up, Lu said. The marchers will gather at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (中正紀念堂) at 11am before marching to the intersection of Ketagalan Boulevard (凱達格蘭大道). The NTA will announce its requests on the square of the Presidential Office.

According to the NTA, this year's requests will be related to the issues of educational reform: to give hope and happiness back to children; mend the chaotic problems caused by the 10-year educational reform; carry out educational reforms promised so far; listen to grassroots teachers' concerns; and lower tuition fees.

"We have adjusted our appeals from last year's strong insistences to this year's soft requests," said Lu, adding that teachers will sing a popular song containing the lyrics "you don't know my heart" to Education Minister Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村) and President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

"President Chen has failed to carry out the promises made in the 2000 campaign. We [teachers] are really disappointed," Lu said, stressing that the promises to lower class capacities to 30 students and increase the number of teachers to a class to two have not been upheld.

The association's public relations head Peng Ju-yu (彭如玉) said Chen discredited all teachers when he announced on Friday that he will not cancel the 18 percent preferential interest rate given on retired teachers' bank deposits or the policy of tax immunity for elementary school and junior high-school teachers.

"President Chen misled the public with the impression that teachers are only looking out for themselves. Actually we stated last year that we are willing to pay tax like other nationals," Peng said. "We have suggested to the government to utilize those budgets to improve educational resources."

Peng said the Chunghwa Telecom Workers' Union, the Taiwan Railway Labor Union and the Grand Alliance of State-owned Enterprises of Workers' Unions have expressed their willingness to join today's march.

"Because those members of the unions are the grassroots parents who know deeply what the educational reform has brought to their children," she added.

Huang said the Ministry of Education would definitely keep working on educational reform even if teachers were not marching on the streets, "because we have the same vision in education which cannot be carried out without teachers' support," Huang said.

Opposition parties yesterday came out in support of the National Teachers' Association's appeals.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative leader Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進) said KMT Legislator Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) would take part in the event today on behalf of the KMT caucus's support for the teachers.

"The pan-blue alliance has already presented its white paper on education, which, to a certain degree, has addressed the teachers' appeals," Lee said.

"With the alliance's educational policies in position, the alliance will work to guarantee teachers' rights once the alliance successfully unseats the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to become the ruling party next year," Lee said.

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