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Tue, Feb 13, 2001 - Page 2 News List

Education official wants advisory committee to go

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of Education Ovid Tzeng (曾志朗) yesterday suggested disbanding an ad hoc advisory group set up to hear the opinions of other government departments on education issues, comparing the group to a straitjacket.

But members of the 16-member task force say that dissolving the group won't accomplish anything and that the ministry has yet to prove that it can cope with education reform on its own.

The committee under attack is the "Educational Reform Task Force (教改推動小組)," which was set up under the Executive Yuan in January 1997 to communicate between ministries with the aim of solving personnel and financial difficulties associated with educational reform.

The present task force is made up of 16 members, including its convener, Vice Premier Lai In-jaw (賴英照), Cabinet members and educators.

"The existence of the educational reform task force is just like a straitjacket to the education ministry," Tzeng said.

"While there is no clear distinction in terms of function and duties between the task force and the ministry, the committee is empowered to examine most of the policies implemented by the ministry," he said.

"The task force was originally convened to mull over education reform policies. Now that most policies have entered their executive stage, which means the group has achieved its goal, it is about time we considered dissolving this group."

To illustrate how the advisory group impedes the ministry, Tzeng cited the protracted argument over the Romanization of Mandarin.

Tzeng said the reason why a decision was protracted for so long was that the task force kept hesitating to call a meeting to settle the issue.

The ongoing controversy has yet to be resolved as Tzeng favors Hanyu Pinyin (漢語拼音) -- a system prevalent in China and other Mandarin-speaking countries, whereas most executive officials and linguistic scholars prefer Tongyong Pinyin (通用拼音), saying it more accurately reflects Taiwan's linguistic idiosyncrasies.

Tzeng said neither the education ministry nor the Executive Yuan could have any say on the issue since they both had to abide by task force edicts.

He then said that the Ministry of Education should have full power to decide education policies.

When questioned by the Taipei Times, however, most committee members disagreed with the view held by the minister.

"The task force was formed under special conditions and with specific purposes. If the minister encounters any difficulties with the task force, he may communicate with the members. I don't think the problem can be solved simply by dissolving the group," said committee member Wu Yin-chang (吳英璋), a professor in the psychology department at National Taiwan University.

Another member, Chang Hui-shan (張輝山), director of the National Teachers' Association (中華民國全國教師會), said if the Ministry of Education considered the task force a stumbling block to policy implementation, it should first prove to the public that it is an effective organization and can tackle education problems without assistance.

"But as it stands, I don't think it [the education ministry] is [an efficient department]," Chang said.

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