Wed, Jul 08, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Textbooks fail to teach respect for animals: activists

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Animal rights activists and legislators yesterday called on the Ministry of Education to teach students to respect animal rights.

Saying that textbooks for elementary and junior high students failed to teach respect for animals, the activists asked that the ministry amend its curriculum guidelines.

Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏), a representative of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan, told a press conference that a close examination of 159 elementary school textbooks and 23 junior high school textbooks showed that in most cases content taught students to “ignore, discriminate against, abuse and treat animals as lifeless items.”

For example, many textbooks require that students catch and raise insects in small boxes for observation while failing to require that teachers and students ensure the rights of the animals during and after the teaching activities, Chen said.

“A health and physical education textbook for fifth graders even carries a picture with a dog being forced to jump rope while another book used in arts classes for third graders contains a picture with a monkey whose head is covered by a bucket,” Chen said.

“Textbook content like this may be misleading and students could be tempted to imitate it when interacting with animals,” she said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) urged the ministry to conduct a thorough review of textbook content before it spends funds promoting character building and moral education.

“There is no need for the ministry to spend about NT$900 million (US$27.4 million) promoting moral education,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said.

“[The ministry] simply has to promote environmental ethics because indifference to animals is the root of many problems,” Tien said.

In response, a Department of Elementary Education official surnamed Tsai said the ministry would invite animal rights advocates, publishers and the ministry’s textbook review panel to discuss the curriculum guidelines on Monday.

Tsai said that the ministry would also publicize a decennial review of the curriculum guidelines by the end of this year.

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