The National Federation of Teachers’ Unions (NFTU) yesterday criticized what it said was the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) “rigged” draft amendment to the Private School Act (私立學校法), with union members saying that the proposal only applies to schools that are granted larger subsidies and does not allow faculty members to serve as directors of schools.
A dozen union members yesterday protested outside the legislature in Taipei ahead of a committee meeting to review the draft amendment, shouting demands that faculty members be included on private schools’ boards of directors, that the schools’ balance sheets be made public and that the DPP accept their demands.
NFTU secretary-general Chen Cheng-liang (陳政亮) said that the draft amendment tabled by the DPP caucus and backed by the Ministry of Education supports calls to appoint “directors of public interest” on private schools’ boards to prevent directors from embezzling school assets, but that it also includes a provision saying that only schools receiving annual subsidies of NT$40 million (US$1.24 million) and above from the Ministry of Education are required to hire one “director of public interest.”
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
He said that often it is the private schools with less government funding which are the ones with problems in the constitution of their board of directors and are most in need of supervision.
The DPP’s draft amendment ignores this, indicating that it could have been “rigged,” he said.
In putting forward the provision, it shows that the DPP has only taken reform of private schools “halfway,” he said.
NFTU president Chang Hsu-cheng (張旭政) said that the DPP’s proposal also ignores the unions’ request that teachers be put on the boards of directors to participate in the decisionmaking process about workers’ rights at private schools.
Furthermore, it did not include provisions limiting the number of board members who can be relatives to prevent private schools from becoming family-owned businesses, which is a problem that has proven to be a root cause of private schools hollowing out their assets over the years, he said.
Chang said that the way the DPP fashioned the amendment makes him suspect that the party has accepted some large political donations from private school operators, just like the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), leading it to drag its feet over the reform of the sector.
“We would like to give the DPP a big ‘X’ over the approach it took to curb corruption and push for reform,” Chang said.
He said that if the draft amendment is passed, the teachers unions’ would mobilize to launch a major strike and to protest in front of DPP headquarters in Taipei.
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