Groups yesterday called for the Ministry of Education to remove two professors from its curriculum outlines adjustment task force, amid controversy over what critics perceive as the President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s efforts to “de-Taiwanize” the nation’s history by altering high-school textbooks.
Shih Hsin University professor Wang Hsiao-po (王曉波) and Fo Guang University professor Hsieh Ta-ning (謝大寧) should be removed from the task force, a group of protesters told a press conference in front of the ministry.
The protesters represented various organizations, such as the Union of Taiwanese Teachers and Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan.
They made the demand after the task force attempted to change to the content of high-school literature and history textbooks to — in the task force’s words — “make sure that the content was in accordance with the Republic of China [ROC] Constitution.”
In a public hearing on Jan. 17, the task force said it was seeking to alter wording that was “unconstitutional.” For example, the word “China” would be changed to “mainland China,” while the term “retrocession” and the phrase “the ROC government’s relocation to Taiwan” would be included in the adjusted content, it said.
However, the protesters said that Wang and Hsieh’s backgrounds cast doubts on their suitability to play leading roles on the task force, since Wang is known for his pro-unification stance and Hsieh serves as secretary-general of the pro-unification Chinese Integration Association.
“We wonder how the two are supposed to treat Taiwanese history fairly,” Union of Taiwanese Teachers president Huang Chun-yi (黃春益) said.
In addition, the proposed changes would not be justifiable because the nation’s “real” history is still hidden or is still not known to most Taiwanese, said Lin Li-tsai (林黎彩), the daughter of a 228 Massacre victim.
The massacre that wiped out almost an entire generation of Taiwanese elites and resulted in the death of tens of thousands was not taught to students in the past, the 67-year-old Lin said, adding that she had not known that her father was killed in the massacre until she was 40 years old.
The protesters were blocked from entering the ministry after the press conference, but a pair of ministry officials agreed to meet with them about five minutes later.
Tsai Chih-ming (蔡志明), an official at the ministry’s K-12 Education Administration, denied that the adjustment drive was initiated by the ministry, saying that it was launched after many teachers called for “minor tweaks” to be made to the textbooks.
While Wang specializes in philosophy and not history, Tzeng Shih-jay (曾世杰), academic vice president of the National Academy for Educational Research, said this does not hinder his ability to serve as the task force’s convener because there are many historians on the panel to provide historical expertise as needed.
Tzeng did not say that more public hearings on the adjustments would be held, but he vowed to hold talks with the organizations opposed the proposed changes.