Thu, Jul 21, 2016 - Page 4 News List

DPP’s private-school proposal prompts protest

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Representatives of teachers’ and students’ groups hold a banner in front of Democratic Progressive Party headquarters in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Students and education union members yesterday rallied in front of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters in Taipei to protest against the party’s draft amendment to the Private School Act (私立學校法), with protesters accusing the DPP of proposing legislation slanted toward private-school directors and fostering corruption.

The protesters criticized the DPP’s proposition that only private schools that pass a threshold in the amount of subsidies they receive from the Ministry of Education need to assign one “director of public interest” to their boards of directors.

They also criticized the lack of provisions that would require schools to publish details on their expenditure and minutes taken at board meetings.

The draft amendment last week passed a first reading at a meeting of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee, as did a resolution stating that half of the members on private-school boards of directors should be qualified teachers and that the ministry should establish a database for picking candidates.

DPP Legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅) withdrew his draft proposal, which contained provisions close to appeals made by the National Federation of Teachers’ Union (NFTU) and the Taiwan Higher Education Union.

NFTU vice secretary-general Yu Jung-hui (尤榮輝) said that he does not trust the DPP’s draft, as it would grant the ministry complete authority over the vetting process for directors of public interest, compromising objectivity.

Taiwan Higher Education Union vice secretary-general Chen Cheng-liang (陳政亮) accused the DPP of flip-flopping on private-school reform after becoming the ruling party, saying its draft amendment clearly panders to private-school directors.

Chen denounced DPP Legislator Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱) for opposing a proposal requiring private institutes to publish details on their expenditure on the grounds that the rule would intensify competition among private schools.

Chen said that such information should not be regarded as commercial secrets, as schools are established to serve the public interest.

“The DPP has been hijacked by some of its own lawmakers, who are attempting to lead the party on a path that strips education of its publicness. This is a poison pill that will only aggravate problems concerning private schools,” he said.

The DPP’s stance on the act shows that not only the law, but also the ruling party’s lack of insight into education, needs changing, Chen said.

Tensions escalated as a man who identified himself as the head of the management committee of the building that houses the DPP headquarters demanded that demonstrators clear away from the front of the building and protest on the road instead, prompting a loud exchange.

Throughout the demonstration, the man held up a sign to block protesters from the public view, prompting some protesters to accuse the DPP of attempting to evict them through the building’s management committee.

The rally ended with protesters crumpling copies of the DPP’s draft and throwing them toward the party’s headquarters.

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