Sat, Jan 26, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Students, parents kneel to protest school merger

CAUSING UPSET:An official said the city government had no plans to use the plot of land on which the school is built for luxury apartment complexes or shopping malls

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Lee Chia-chen, a student at Taipei Minglun Elementary School, cries as she holds up a sign reading: “The children’s wish for Mayor Hau” yesterday. Students from the school knelt down in front of Taipei City Hall in a protest against the city government’s decision to close their school in August.

Photo: Lin Hsiang-mei, Taipei Times

About 150 students from Taipei Minglun Elementary School and their parents yesterday knelt down in front of Taipei City Hall in a protest against the Taipei City Government’s decision to close the school in August, accusing the city government of sacrificing the school for profit-driven urban renewal plans.

Shouting “Do not close my school” and “Please save Ming- lun,” the students and their parents expressed their affection for the school and threatened to boycott classes when their school is merged with the nearby Dalong Elementary School in August.

“Minglun Elementary School is a beautiful school and I have many great memories there. I don’t understand why the city government wants to close my school,” fourth-grader Lee Chia-chen (李佳真) said.

The students and parents knelt down in front of the city hall to urge Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) to meet with them. However, Hau did not make an appearance.

Taipei Minglun Elementary School, near MRT Yuanshan Station in Datung District (大同), was established 48 years ago.

The Taipei City Government had planned to use the land on which the school is built for an urban renewal project named the Northern Datung Cultural Park, but did not pursue the project.

Deputy commissioner of Taipei City’s Department of Education Tseng Tsan-chin (曾燦金) said the nation’s low birthrate has led to the closing of the school, as the number of students has dropped from 481 in 2001 to 231 last year.

He said the city government had considered using the land for an urban renewal project, but decided to turn the land into a youth innovativion park or a children’s museum in the future.

“We aim to use our educational resources more effectively by merging the two schools. We will not build luxury apartment complexes or shopping malls on the site,” he said in response to concerns about the use of the plot of land.

However, Tseng’s comments failed to persuade the parents and some local borough chiefs.

Chang Yu-sheng (張郁昇), a representative of the school’s Parent-Teacher Association, said the land on which the school is built is worth at least NT$5 billion (US$170 million), and the city government has given evasive answers when asked to explain its plans for the land.

If the city government continues to ignore calls to keep the school open, the association would consider staging a class boycott in August in protest against the merger, he said.

Tseng said the department would relocate all students and teachers to Dalung Elementary School in August and ensure their right to an education.

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