The National Federation of Teachers’ Unions (NFTU) yesterday urged all its members to join a protest against what it said was the failure of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to fulfill the promises he has made to teachers, by wearing black T-shirts on Teachers’ Day on Friday.
At a press conference held in Taipei yesterday, teachers from across the country held up guavas as they chanted slogans and called on Ma to fulfill the promises he made to the nation’s teachers, including increasing the education budget, shrinking class size and raising the fees paid to mentor teachers.
“We are eating the guavas as a symbolic gesture to consume the ‘guava checks’ issued by politicians,” NFTU president Liu Chin-hsu (劉欽旭) said. “We want to remind Ma that he’s breaching his own promises and is also breaking the trust that we have in him.”
“Guava check” is a common colloquial Taiwanese term to refer to bounced checks, as well as broken promises.
Liu called on all teachers nationwide to wear a black T-shirt on Friday, which is Teachers’ Day, as a sign of protest.
“Please explain to students or parents who are curious about our actions how the government has yet to honor its promises to us,” Liu said. “This is important not only for teachers, but also for students because it concerns their right to a decent education.”
NFTU deputy secretary-general Lo Te-shui (羅德水) said that when running for president in 2008, Ma promised to increase the annual education budget to NT$24 billion (US$818 million) and to reduce class sizes in elementary schools to 25 students per class.
Ma also promised in 2010 to grant private school teachers the same levels of subsidies and pension rights as their government school counterparts, and last year promised to improve teacher-to-class ratios as well as increasing the fees paid to mentor teachers, while also promising in May to install energy-saving lighting equipment in all classrooms, but has failed to deliver, Lo said.
“We call on all our colleagues to join the protest on Teachers’ Day, because it’s a day that belongs to all teachers and it’s the appropriate time for us to show our solidarity and our concerns for education quality,” he said.