Minister of Education Ovid Tzeng (曾志朗), accompanied by legislators Yang Hsiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) and Feng Ting-kuo (馮定國), paid his first visit yesterday to schools located in Taichung and Nantou counties, two areas that bore the brunt of the 921 earthquake.
During his stay, Tzeng exchanged views with local educators, hoping to learn the most effective measures to help rebuild the area's many damaged schools.
The trip fulfilled an earlier promise by the new education minister, who said that one of his most urgent tasks after taking charge of the ministry would be to oversee reconstruction of schools in the quake-hit areas.
On a very tight schedule, Tzeng visited several campuses, including Tungshih Senior Technical High School (TSTHS) and Touchen Elementary School in Taichung County, as well as Yanhe Junior High School, Yungchan Elementary School and Chunghsing Junior High School in Nantou County.
"Though all matters [relating to the reconstruction process] are of equal significance, we still need to prioritize tasks due to budget and manpower constraints," Tzeng said.
With summer rapidly approaching, Tzeng also said installing ventilation and heat insulation systems in classrooms were a priority.
Another focus, the minister said, would be precautionary measures to prevent damage from summer typhoons.
School principals also used the occasion to press the minister for more funds to be directly used for reconstruction.
TSTHS director of studies Lien Hsieh-yuan (連學淵) asked for money to repair damaged teaching facilities and install insulating materials at his school, while other educators voiced the need to set up sports facilities on campuses.
When quizzed by reporters if he had been made aware of cases of misappropriation or fraudulent use of reconstruction funds, Tzeng replied that he was not aware of any such cases.
However, Tzeng promised to pay closer attention to the spending of reconstruction funds in the future to prevent any misconduct.
In related news, several education groups went to the Legislative Yuan yesterday to express support for the new education minister, who came under fire at the legislature on Wednesday while giving his introductory policy reports.
Tzeng was taken to task by several KMT legislators for remarks he had made before taking office implicating unnamed legislators for skimming funds from the education ministry's budget. The legislators proposed a vote of no confidence against Tzeng for the remarks.
Leaders from the Humanistic Education Foundation (
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