The Ministry of Education’s first public hearing on a controversial draft of high school history curriculum guidelines ended yesterday amid debates over whether Taiwan’s history should be traced back to ancient Chinese history.
During the hearing held at Taipei Municipal Zhongshan Girls High School, pro-independence groups protested the ministry’s draft to merge ancient Taiwanese history with that of ancient Chinese.
Li Chuan-hsin (李川信), president of the Northern Taiwan Society, said Taiwan has never belonged to China and alleged that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government sought to amend the nation’s high school history curriculum guidelines for political reasons.
Li, who is also a teacher, said he used to teach his students that “we are Chinese.”
“But how many people in Taiwan nowadays truly think of themselves as Chinese?” Li asked.
However, Chi Hsing (紀欣), chairwoman of the Alliance for the Reunification of China, urged the ministry to clearly state in the guidelines that Taiwan has been part of China since the Dutch were driven out by Zheng Chenggong (鄭成?
Yesterday’s hearing was one of the four sessions organized by the ministry to address concerns raised by opposition lawmakers and academics about the draft publicized by the ministry on Monday.
In accordance with the draft, the ministry plans to have high school students spend one semester on Taiwanese history, one-and-a-half semesters on Chinese history and one-and-a-half semesters on world history in their first and second years.
Currently, high school students spend one semester on Taiwanese history, another semester on Chinese history and two semesters on world history.
Students majoring in liberal arts are required to take history on special topics in their senior year, but students majoring in science are not.
The ministry also plans to trace Taiwanese history back to China’s Three Kingdoms period (三國時代), which began in the year 220, a move interpreted by some Taiwanese academics as merging Taiwan’s history with China’s.
Max Huang (黃克武), director of the Academia Sinica’s Institute of Modern History and head of the ministry’s taskforce to amend the guidelines, said the taskforce understands that tracing Taiwanese history to ancient Chinese history would be controversial, adding that the ministry also plans to add footnotes to history textbooks telling students that there are different interpretations about this part of the history.
National Chengchi University history professor Hsueh Hua-yuan (薛化元) suggested that Southeast Asia be included in the guidelines given the close ties between Taiwan and the region.
Sung Wen-huei (宋文惠), a high school teacher, expressed similar views, saying that many Taiwanese children whose parents are from Southeast Asia should have the opportunity to learn the history of their parents’ homelands.