Members of the Ministry of Education’s Syllabus Research Subcommittee are lambasting Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling for the first time ever because he insists on making the nation’s native languages compulsory instead of elective for all junior high school students. Despite this, during a question-and-answer session in the legislature last week, Chiang resolutely said that native languages would be made part of the compulsory curriculum for junior high school students.
In October last year, Chiang promised the legislature that native languages would be switched from the elective curriculum to required curriculum for junior high school students. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ting-fei last week submitted to the legislature a record of the subcommittee’s meeting regarding the revised education curriculum for the 12-year compulsory national education program at the ministry on Nov. 11 last year, pointing out that the subcommittees for junior and elementary school proposed at the meeting that a final decision should not be made before legislative discussions are finished. The subcommittes also expressed to the minister strict opposition to his plan.
Chiang has reiterated that he is determined to make native languages compulsory. He says that he respects the opinions of the subcommittee, but that suggestions from the subcommittee must all go through the Curriculum Committee, which he heads. Chiang says that he will communicate as best he can in order to finally carry out his promises.
Chen says that the subcommittee wants to downgrade native languages to local languages and abolish all of the rules regarding junior high school electives. The National Academy for Educational Research has rejected Chen’s request to let the public know who exactly is trying to suppress Taiwan’s native languages by publicly releasing the names of the subcommittee members.
Ho Sin-han, director of Chung Shan Medical University’s School of Taiwanese Languages, says that making native languages mandatory in the junior high school curriculum is a way of showing respect toward indigenous cultures and preserving them. The subcommittee was hired by the ministry, Ho says, adding that using their expert status to provoke the minister is basically the same as employees being hired to manage their employer.
National Academy for Educational Research President Ko Hwa-wei says that the subcommittee is made up of people with various backgrounds, including academics, experts, teachers and representatives of various groups, which means they have a diversity of opinions. Ko hopes that the subcommittee can respect the process and adhere to the system, and denies that the subcommittee is attacking the minister. Syllabus research is still being conducted, and there are no plans to reclassify native languages as local languages, or abolish junior high school native language courses, Ko says.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)