A potential solution to the great divide between the Ministry of Education and the student protesters occupying the ministry to protest against controversial high-school curriculum guidelines might be in the making, as former National Taichung First Senior High School dean Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) attempted to mediate a deal yesterday.
Consensus was reached at 10pm last night that Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) would meet with representatives of the student protesters this afternoon to attempt to reconcile their differences.
Chu Chen (朱震), convener of the Northern Taiwan Anti-Curriculum Changes Alliance, said that he, alliance spokesman Wang Pin-chen (王品蓁), four other student members and Taichung First Senior High School student Liao Chung-lun (廖崇倫), former spokesman of the Apple Tree Commune student club, which started the debate against the controversial curriculum guideline adjustments, would attend the meeting. Three teachers are also to accompany them to the meeting.
According to Ministry of Education Secretary-General Wang Chun-chuan (王俊權) the meeting could be transmitted live online and the ministry would arrange a news conference afterward.
A number of protesters, mainly high-school students, entered the ministry compound early on Friday during a demonstration against the controversial high-school textbook guideline adjustments, which went into effect on Saturday. The student occupation of the plaza inside the ministry gates yesterday surpassed 60 hours.
The students have demanded that Wu resign, that the implementation of the new guidelines be halted and an extra legislative session to review the changes.
A number of civic groups yesterday afternoon staged a march around the perimeter of the building in support of the students.
Earlier yesterday, the presidents of five private universities called for the students to withdraw as soon as possible and begin a rational dialogue with the ministry.
Samuel Chang (張光正), of Chung Yuan Christian University, read the announcement at a news conference, saying the group understood the objectives of the students’ protest and approved of their ideals, but condemned any unlawful and disorderly activity, and hoped the issue could be discussed in a rational manner.
The group of university presidents also said they were apprehensive the radical approaches of some students might set a bad example, expressing concern the issue could make Taiwanese society more confrontational and impair the nation’s competitiveness in the future. They called on the ministry to invite professionals, experts and student representatives to build a dialogue and find a solution, while urging the students to end their protest and withdraw from the premises.
The statement was signed by Chang and his counterparts at Tatung University, Chinese Culture University, Shih Chien University and the Taipei-based China University of Technology, as well as 10 academics.
In response, the student protesters released their own statement, saying: “We all want to return to our normal lives, but [they] should return normal textbook guidelines to us first.”