Tue, Jul 19, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Students urge delay to congress

‘TIME PRESSURE’:The ministry published procedural rules only three days prior to the start of the assembly, while 111 candidates are to have just 3 minutes to speak

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

A national student congress that is for the first time to select representatives for curriculum review committees should be postponed, students said yesterday, adding that hasty planning and procedural flaws cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election process.

“The main problem with previous curriculum guideline reviews was that the Ministry of Education had flexibility in interpreting the review process, allowing it to work its way around the law, and what we see today is coming out of the same mold,” said Liao Hao-hsiang (廖浩翔), the former Taoyuan High School Alliance spokesman who was one of the leaders of last year’s student movement to have “China-centric” changes withdrawn from high-school curriculum guidelines.

Liao and six other students met with ministry representatives calling for today’s student congress to be delayed to allow time to address a range of procedural flaws.

“Some students scored poorly on university admissions exams because of their participation in the movement and have used this year to prepare to retake the exams, but they wouldn’t be eligible to participate in the student congress under current rules,” he said, citing ministry requirements that representatives file documentation that they are currently students, adding that graduates who have been studying to retake entrance exams on their own would be excluded.

Students said the ministry’s publication of procedural rules just three days before the congress, as well as its failure to provide students with the background and job information of the 111 candidates who are to vie for four positions on the committee, was inappropriate.

“There are to be more than 200 participants of the student congress and a huge number of review committee candidates, but the schedule only allows each candidate about three minutes to describe their positions,” student Wang Chung-wei (王崇維) said. “To elect review committee members when there is no way for all members of the congress to gain a full understanding of each candidate would be extremely inappropriate.”

“We hope to complete the review process before the start of the school year to try and ensure that students and other committees are all able to fully participate in the review process,” said Tsai Mang-kai (蔡孟凱), chief of the ministry’s division for middle-school education. “While it would not be accurate to say that we have ‘rushed,’ there is substantial time pressure.”

He said ministry plans called for the committees to complete reviews of new curriculum guidelines for grades one to 12 by the end of next month, with implementation scheduled for 2018.

“Students can discuss how they want to elect representatives and the ministry will respect whatever consensus they arrive at,” he said, adding that the ministry hoped students would be “cautious,” because their candidates would still be subject to review by a panel appointed by the Legislative Yuan.

Unenrolled students would be eligible to participate as long as they graduated last year and could demonstrate that they will enter college this year, he added.

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