A legislative cross-caucus meeting yesterday decided against an extraordinary legislative session, as student protesters had demanded, and instead advised the Ministry of Education (MOE) to immediately launch reviews of curriculum guidelines in accordance with the Senior High School Education Act (高級中等教育法) and to allow schools to freely choose which textbooks they use.
A meeting in the legislature was held yesterday to decide whether an extraordinary legislative session was needed. The meeting had been scheduled to take place at 10:30am, but did not begin until nearly noon, after a prolonged cross-caucus negotiation behind closed doors.
Faced with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus’ strong opposition, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus withdrew its proposal to call an extraordinary legislative session to discuss whether to withdraw new curriculum guidelines. Instead, it was agreed in the cross-caucus negotiation that the Ministry of Education would be advised to adhere to Article 43 of the act to immediately establish a “curriculum council” to examine senior-high school curriculum guidelines, and that schools should be free to choose their own textbooks in the new school year.
The KMT caucus, in a news conference before negotiations took place, said it had decided during its caucus meeting not to call an extraordinary legislative session for the curriculum controversy. The resolution was approved by “about 50 legislators that attended the caucus meeting” opposing the DPP caucus’ proposal. The KMT holds 65 seats in the legislature.
“Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) was also present [at the caucus meeting] to report on the issue and said that the curriculum was promulgated in February last year. The anti-curriculum [protest] is a pseudo-dispute, since the new curriculum took effect on Saturday and the textbooks have been printed. It is impossible to recall the textbooks,” KMT deputy caucus whip Lin Te-fu (林德福) said.
“Deputy Legislative Speaker and KMT presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) was at the meeting and agreed with the caucus’ decision not to hold an extraordinary session. She also called for a ‘just’ debate on the issue that should be resolved among adults rather than using kids,” KMT caucus whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said.
The Legislative Yuan’s resolution drew a mixed reaction from student representatives, who expressed concerns about the composition and mission of the proposed review committee, while reiterating demands that curriculum guideline adjustments be suspended.
Student spokesman Hsiao Chu-chun (蕭竹均) of the Apple Tree Commune Club said that students did not accept the outcome, but that they still hoped the proposed “review” would lead to a suspension of the guidelines.
“That they have initiated a review committee demonstrates that they believe there are problems with the guidelines’ adoption procedures,” he said. “If there are problems, then the guidelines should be suspended.”
The committee’s membership should be “open” and include academics of Taiwanese history, he said, adding that students should have the right to send representatives.
Hsiao said that students would remain camped in the forecourt of the ministry until it was certain when the review committee would be convened, as well as the composition of its membership.