Minister of Education Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城) said yesterday that military instructors would never become teaching staff in the nation’s elementary and junior high schools.
“I will never allow military instructors to be recruited as staffers at junior high and primary schools,” Cheng said during a question-and-answer session with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲).
Cheng said military instructors would only speak to pupils about national defense education during weekly assemblies at the invitation of schools.
Cheng was responding to Kuan’s questions regarding a proposal titled “Improvement and Adjustment of the Work of Military Instructors,” which was published by the ministry on Feb. 11.
The proposal suggested that the ministry include “national defense education” in the curriculums of elementary schools 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 is in line with the National Defense Education Act (全民國防教育法), which stipulates that schools should promote national defense education, the proposal said.
The proposal fueled controversy and drew criticism from civic groups and the DPP as the presence of military instructors on campus 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 at high schools and universities. Those at high schools are also responsible for student discipline, counseling and military training courses.
“Military instructors are not the only ones who have the expertise to help the ministry promote national defense education,” Kuan said. “The ministry can instead recruit graduate students of international affairs and strategic studies.”
The minister said he “agreed” with Kuan’s suggestion, adding that the ministry would take her idea into consideration.