Liberty Times: Hsinchu High School has the most students who signed a petition against the curriculum changes. Why do the students oppose the Ministry of Education’s plan?
Students: High-school students must study many different materials and it is difficult to persuade everyone to sign the petition against the changes. A group of students in the school are working together and finding all relevant information on the matter and have held workshops for open debates.
We have invited teachers and university professors to the workshops for discussion as well. The main discontent is focused on the procedure used to determine the curriculum and how the changes are not ideal and seek to use education as a tool to force ideologies upon people that are supported by a minority.
The school’s attitude toward this matter greatly increased our efforts in persuading so many students to sign the petition. In contrast with other schools, where teachers and parents are telling students to focus on their studies and help increase the number of students who get accepted to top universities, Hsinchu High School officials are allowing students to pass out fliers on the matter at the school gates, as well as allowing open debates on the matter.
With more people coming together and understanding the issue, there will be more people signing the petition opposing the changes.
LT: Hsinchu Senior High School has already decided to continue using older versions of the history and civic education textbooks. Are students not afraid that they will be out of touch with materials presented in examinations?
Students: From what we understand, the teachers hope that the textbooks would refrain from slanted historical views, but the ministry’s recent official notice demanding that schools use the new textbooks has put pressure on the school’s administrators.
However, civic education teachers had already decided to use the older textbooks, and the history teachers made the same decision. They are waiting for the ministry to officially repeal its former notice under public pressure before making their choices official.
As for the examinations, according to our research, examinations usually avoid controversial content, as it would only cause more problems that the College Entrance Examination Center would want to avoid.
Primarily, students are opposing political forces intervening in their education. The prime target of our opposition is the Ministry of Education, which we feel should adhere to established procedures for deciding curricula.
LT: Participants in the meeting that passed the controversial changes said that textbooks were meant to serve political goals, adding that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) also amended the curriculum when it was in power from 2000 to 2008. Why are high-school students so strongly opposing the changes made now?
Students: Prior to the lifting of Martial Law, all senior-high schools had only one version of textbooks — the one compiled and published by the National Institute for Compilation and Translation — which is evidently an educational tool used by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Following the permits issued to private companies to publish textbooks, the first curriculum was devised in 1999, with a temporary curriculum adopted by the DPP in 2006, followed by their proposal for a new curriculum in 2009.