A group of lawmakers, legislative candidates and supporters of the pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) staged a demonstration at the Ministry of Education yesterday, urging the ministry to compile Taiwan-centric history and geography textbooks for school children as part of a desinicization initiative.
The group, led by TSU legislators Lin Chih-long (林志隆) and Huang Chung-yuan (黃宗源), said Taiwan has had a hard time forging a national consensus on its national identity due in part to the sinicized education system imposed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) during its 55-year rule.
The ministry must overhaul its education policy in line with four principles: National history must refer to Taiwanese history; national geography must refer to Taiwan's geography; national literature must refer to Taiwanese literature; and Taiwan's various mother tongues must enjoy equal status to that of Mandarin.
Noting that desinicizing teaching materials is critical to his party's localization and Taiwanization campaign, Huang said the ministry should play an active role in making Taiwan-centric curricula the mainstream in education.
"I believe Taiwan-centric curricula will contribute to enhancing local people's awareness of Taiwan's separate national identity and will boost national unity," Huang said.
He further said current sinicized history and geography textbooks for local elementary and junior high school students are unrealistic and did nothing to cultivate a Taiwan-conscious citizenry.
"In the past, Taiwan's history and geography accounted for only 5 percent of textbooks used in junior-high schools. Since 1998, the ratio has been increased to 20 percent, but this ratio remains unacceptable and should be greatly improved," Huang said.
He also added that the ministry should do more to establish a Taiwan-centric education and cultural system.
After reading out their petition, Huang and several demonstrators entered the ministry office, where they were greeted by Wu Tsai-shun (吳財順), director of the Elementary Education Department.
Wu told the demonstrators that the ministry has been reforming compulsory education curricula to increase Taiwan-related subjects in textbooks.