The National Teachers’ Association (NTA) yesterday accused Taipei County of violating children’s human rights after the county last week announced plans to introduce extra English classes in every elementary school in the county.
In a press release, the NTA accused Taipei County Commissioner Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) of blindly believing that the extra classes are necessary for children while neglecting an individual’s right to choose their own schooling as stipulated in the Basic Education Act (教育基本法).
The NTA said although the county described the extra classes as an “experiment,” the plan would be bettered called an “arms race.”
“Commissioner Chou and the director of the county’s Education Bureau never tried to figure out how to improve teaching efficiency in the classes currently available,” the association said.
The NTA was responding to the county’s announcement last Wednesday that all elementary school students must take three extra English-related classes per week starting this fall.
Liu Ho-jen (劉和然), director of the bureau, said the county began a trial at 48 schools during the 2008 academic year and expanded the scheme to 85 schools last year.
A survey conducted by the bureau last month showed that around 80 percent of parents were in favor of implementing the curriculum, while as many as 90 percent of the students said they were more motivated after having taken the new lessons, Liu said.
Chou said it is necessary for children to begin English lessons when young so that they will be more competitive in terms of English proficiency.
But the Ministry of Education said the county could not force every student to participate in the new curriculum because it was experimental.
Nevertheless, Vice Minister of Education Chen Yi-hsing (陳益興) said the ministry would use the county government’s evaluation report on the curriculum as a reference when debating elementary school curriculum guidelines.