Teachers’ groups yesterday called on the Ministry of Education and the Council of Labor Affairs to look into whether the Taipei College of Maritime Technology (TCMT) had “aggressively eroded teachers’ professional autonomy” and violated labor laws since the current board of directors took office in 2007.
Wu I-ta (吳義達), chairman of the teacher’s union at the college, said the rights and interests of teachers and students have been increasingly violated and disregarded for the past five years, to the point that the union “has to speak up in the hope of making the school see its mistakes.”
Many unreasonable measures have been adopted by college council meetings, Wu said, including teachers’ evaluation measures stipulating that grades are to be deducted if students transfer to other schools or classrooms are not cleaned.
“According to the University Act (大學法), members of the university council meeting should be elected, but ours are appointed,” Wu said. “Everything is decided at the council meetings.”
Liu Chao (劉釗), a lecturer in the department of computer technology and mobile communication at TCMT, said that even teachers’ choices of textbooks were regulated and monitored.
“Last semester I had a class of students saying new textbooks were too expensive, so I let them use second-hand books,” he said.
“Soon I got a notice [from the Office of Academic Affairs], asking me to write a report proving that we used textbooks in the classroom,” Liu said. “So I did and also gave them a couple of photographs of me standing next to a pile of used books.”
Teachers are “required” to use textbooks published by the New Wun Ching Developmental Publishing Co, a family business of TCMT’s vice president Lin Shih-chung (林世宗), Liu said.
“I will say 40 percent to 60 percent of the textbooks used in the classrooms are published by New Wun Ching,” he said.
The teachers’ union was formed in May.
Two months later, the school held a series of council meetings and decided to stop admitting students to the department of computer technology and mobile communication, where most of the union’s leading members work, saying that the number of students enrolled in the department dropped this year.
Union members believe it was an excuse for the school to get rid of troublemaking teachers, saying that under Ministry of Education regulations, a school department can reduce the number of admissions if less than 70 percent of the admitted students are enrolled in the department for three consecutive years.
Yang Yi-feng (楊益風), chairman of the Taipei Teachers’ Association, said the abrupt decision to stop admission shows the school sees education as a commodity.
Members of the teachers’ bodies questioned the college’s financial status because scholarships and grants for students and students’ clubs have been either cut or withdrawn.
They called on the government to investigate how the college has used the ministry’s subsidy, and asked the college to provide financial transparency regarding a new building under construction on its Tamsui campus that costs NT$880 million (US$29.4 million).
National Federation of Teachers Unions vice chairman Wu Chung-tai (吳忠泰) said the subsidy the ministry offers private colleges and universities amounts to more than NT$10 billion, with individual schools receiving funds that range from dozens of millions to NT$100 million.