Thu, Jan 22, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Preschool teachers protest outside education ministry

DIRTY DEALINGS:Renoir Creative School founder Su Wei-hsin blasted government officials for holding what she described as secret discussions with select groups

By Lii Wen  /  Staff reporter

Nearly 100 preschool teachers yesterday rallied outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei saying the ministry’s reforms on childcare policy of being “hijacked by a select number of interest groups.”

The rally came amid a heated debate involving preschool teachers, childcare workers and private childcare facilities over a proposed amendment to the Early Childhood Education and Care Act (幼兒教育及照顧法).

The protesters urged the ministry to stand firmly behind its proposal to stipulate at least one certified preschool teacher for classes of children aged between five and six years old.

The ministry recently agreed to lengthen the “buffer period” for preschools to fulfill the requirement from five years to eight years, fueling speculation that the requirement might be terminated altogether under pressure from private for-profit preschools.

The preschool teachers said that private preschools are lobbying to abolish the requirement to reduce their personnel costs, as the salaries for certified preschool teachers are higher than childcare workers.

With bright red banners tied across their foreheads, the preprotesters marched and chanted slogans in front of the ministry as a meeting between the ministry and four representatives from preschool associations was held inside.

At a news conference earlier, preschool teachers’ representatives said that the ministry should respect their professional credentials.

Renoir Creative School founder Su Wei-hsin (蘇偉馨) blasted the ministry for engaging in what she described as secret discussions with select preschool associations and of ignoring the voices of other stakeholders.

She said that while childcare workers might have years of experience in taking care of children, many lack professional expertise.

“If experience were that important, then any grandmother could get a job at a preschool,” Su said. “Sometimes experience obstructs progress.”

Chang Yu-liang (張宇梁), a professor of education administration at National Chiayi University, told the news conference that he supports the establishment of certification measures for childcare workers as well, as it would serve to raise their wages.

In response, section chief on early education Wang Hui-chiu (王慧秋) said that the ministry would hold meetings involving more nationwide organizations next month.

On Monday, opposing rallies led by childcare workers and preschool teachers clashed outside the legislature as they backed differing views on the amendment.

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