Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday softened his tone as he defended the tri-city high school entrance exam policy, and said the city government would communicate with the Ministry of Education on whether the exam should be discontinued next year.
As controversy over the policy escalates, Hau said the city government would consider opening more places for students who were not satisfied with the admission process, as he reiterated his promise to protect the rights of all test takers.
“I will try my best to protect the rights of the students ... Theoretically, the exam will continue next year because we need to take responsibility for first and second-year junior high students who are using the single-version text books under the policy. We will discuss the issue with the ministry,” he said at Taipei City Hall.
The ministry said on Wednesday that it would consider public opinion regarding the policy when reviewing the feasibility of the exam next year. The city government is required to present a proposal to the ministry by Aug. 30 for its approval of the exam next year.
The exams, which are used in Taipei, New Taipei City (新北市) and Keelung, were held in May and last week as part of the three cities’ single-textbook policy.
The policy sparked controversy after students complained about failing to get into their target schools because of “ambiguous admissions thresholds” and the city government failed in its efforts to end disputes by opening up more than 2,000 vacancies and accepting new students.
Swamped by reporters in his office, Hau declined to confirm whether any city officials would step down over the policy change, while denying that there was any pressure from the Presidential Office.
Hau said he informed President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) about the policy change in a telephone call on Wednesday and apologized for any possible impact the incident might have on him.
It is rumored that Taipei City Department of Education Commissioner Kang Tzong-huu (康宗虎) and Deputy Commissioner Lin Hsin-yao (林信耀) could take responsibility for the policy and step down after the new round of admissions is completed.
In response to some parents and students’ threats to file a lawsuit against the city government over the damage the policy has done to students, the director of Taipei City’s Law and Regulation Commission Yeh Ching-yuan (葉慶元) said the commission would accept any complaints and respect the parents’ decision, but would communicate with them and seek to solve the issue.
Meanwhile, the Control Yuan yesterday designated Control Yuan members Chao Jung-yao (趙榮耀) and Yin Jeo-chen (尹祚芊) to investigate the case.
Chao said the probe would -focus on determining whether the tri-city high school entrance exam undertaken by the Taipei City Government was poorly conceived or negligently implemented, causing infringements on the rights and interests of students joining the program.
The investigation will also seek to find out whether remedial measures proposed by the Taipei City Government on Wednesday to open more vacancies for students attending the tri-city entrance exam was made possible at the cost of a reduced quota for students taking the second joint high-school entrance exam, Chao said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHIH HSIU-CHUA