The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday rebutted media speculation that it would create openings for military instructors in junior high and elementary schools.
In a press release, the ministry said it would never provide openings for the ministry’s military instructors in junior high and primary schools.
The ministry was only planning to have military instructors from senior high and vocational high schools offer assistance to elementary and junior high schools that did not have sufficient teaching staff to promote national defense education among students, the MOE said.
The military instructors would not interfere in any student affairs or student counseling in primary and junior high schools, the MOE said.
The ministry would begin to review the number of military instructors on campus in the next academic year, the MOE said.
The presence of military instructors at high schools and universities dates back to the 1950s, when they were responsible for students’ military training, discipline and political education.
They are now generally tasked with ensuring campus safety. Those at high schools are also responsible for student discipline, counseling and military training courses.
The ministry has sought to reduce the number of military instructors at universities since the term of former education minister Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝), who considered their presence on campuses inappropriate.
The ministry drew criticism after it released a proposal titled Improvement and Adjustment of the Work of Military Instructors on Feb. 11.
The proposal suggested that the ministry include “national defense education” in the curriculum guidelines of elementary and junior high schools and have military instructors from senior and vocational high schools provide assistance to nearby junior high and elementary schools.
This measure should be taken because the National Defense Education Act (全民國防教育法) stipulates that schools across the nation should promote national defense education, the proposal said.
When asked for comment, KMT Legislator Shuai Hua-ming (帥化民), a member of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, supported the idea of having military instructors teach pupils about national defense as long as the instructors would not interfere in student affairs.
However, Humanistic Education Foundation chief executive officer Joanna Feng (馮喬蘭) lashed out at the ministry over the plan.
“We should not allow the instructors to teach on campus just because we are trying to resolve [the issue of] the openings for instructors. We are sacrificing children’s rights to education. This should never be done,” Feng said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said military instructors should not only leave colleges, they should also leave senior high schools.
It is ridiculous that the MOE wants to arrange military instructors to teach in junior high schools and elementary schools, she said.
DPP Spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said that there was a social consensus to withdraw military instructors from schools and adding more military instructors into schools was a step backward.
Children need counselors in schools, not military instructors, he said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RICH CHANG