Fri, Sep 14, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Teachers’ union planning ‘silent’ T-shirt protest to mark Teachers’ Day on Sept. 28

By Rachel Lin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Li Pei-yu of the National Federation of Teachers Union (NFTU) gestures at the NFTU’s headquarters in Taipei on Wednesday while wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a metaphor for the government’s lack of sincerity on education. The union wants its members to wear the T-shirts on Sept. 28, Teachers’ Day, in a show of unity and silent protest.

Photo courtesy of the National Federation of Teachers Union

Teachers from all levels of education will wear black T-shirts emblazoned with a leaking oil drum in “silent protest” at what they say are the government’s repeated failures to follow through with its promised educational policies on Teachers’ Day, the National Federation of Teachers Unions said.

Teachers’ Day is a day honoring teachers for their efforts to educate the younger generation. In Taiwan, it is marked on Sept. 28, the Gregorian calendar equivalent to the date of Confucius’ birth on Aug. 27 of the Lunar calendar.

The union said President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has promised that the average number of students per class in elementary schools would be cut to 25, but after four years in power, many classes still have 30 students.

“We intend to stay in the classrooms this time to criticize the government. It has been the government all along that has taken the lead in breaking the trust the people should have in it,” the union said.

So far, 20,000 teachers have bought the T-shirts and more are bought every day, it added.

Union secretary-general Wu Chung-tai (吳忠泰) said the Ma administration’s repeated failures to implement its promises was wrong and that people had the right and obligation to remind the government of its pledges.

Wu said the situation would only worsen if people did not take action, adding that teachers need to tell the government that its credibility is no longer what it was and that it was, like the logo on the shirts, “leaking away.”

Wu said that if the government refused to listen to teachers, the union would consider stronger methods.

Teachers’ Association in Greater Taichung manager Chang Hsu-cheng (張旭正) said about 6,000 teachers would wear the T-shirts, adding that the teachers would also explain why they were wearing the T-shirts, should students ask.

Chang said that despite the city government reducing class sizes due to there being less children and reallocating resources to hire on average 1.55 more teachers per class in elementary schools, the teachers are complaining because the Ministry of Education refused to subsidize funding for the employment of full-time teachers for consultation.

National Principals’ Association director Hsueh Chun-kuang (薛春光) questioned the action, saying that while governmental policies needed oversight, such protests add to the sense of confrontation within society.

If the National Federation of Teachers Unions led students to civic events or courses by example, it would make Teachers’ Day much more meaningful, Hsueh said.

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