The Ministry of Education’s Department of Military Training Education has become a short cut for drill instructors to receive promotions and bonuses while having fewer work responsibilities, an education union official and a lawmaker said yesterday, urging the ministry to initiate reforms to put these military instructors’ skills and experience to good use.
Department head Chou I-shun (周以順) said that it was standard practice for the ministry to temporarily transfer military instructors from high schools, colleges and universities to the department, where they are then charged with developing policies and other tasks related to personnel distribution and administration of the nation’s drill instructors.
After two to four years working at the department, these military professionals are assigned to serve at military training offices in colleges and universities across the country, Chou said.
However, Chen Chun-cheng (陳俊成), a council member of the Kaohsiung Education Union, questioned the practice, saying the Control Yuan already instructed in 2005 that the department should not let military instructors take charge of administrative work.
“There is a severe conflict of interests. It is like you are playing the roles of player and referee at the same time,” Chen said.
He added that by working at the department, military instructors are promoted faster and more easily.
Most, if not all, of them will then serve at colleges and universities, with higher pay and bonuses, but less work, he said.
“Instructors at senior high schools have to work with junior-high and elementary schools to deal with bullying, sexual harassment, drug problems and gang violence. In one district, instructors at one senior high school sometimes have to assist and support dozens of junior-high and elementary schools,” Chen said. “College instructors, on the other hand, are exempt from such work. They don’t have much to do on campus either. If anything serious happens, police will have to take care of it, because college students are adults.”
According to information compiled by the union, in 2009 alone, the department recommended promotion for nine lieutenant colonels, eight of whom became colonels. Moreover, there are about 1,000 college instructors across the country, with an average salary of about NT$83,000 a month. The income difference between high-school instructors and those who serve at colleges with the same rank was between NT$8,030 and NT$23,305.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) suggested that college instructors work alongside others to maintain campus safety and security in elementary and high schools so they can put their expertise to good use.
“We are simply asking for a fair system,” Hsu said. “College instructors should take up more responsibility to deserve what they get paid.”
In response, Chou said that since only those with good records are selected to work at the department, it was only natural that they are promoted more quickly. He added that college instructors were not overpaid because their salaries were verified and approved by the Directorate-General of Personnel Administration.
“Those instructors actually work very hard. Their importance may not be noticed during peace time, but their functions will become evident when cross-strait military tension rises,” he added.