Sun, Jul 31, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Students aim to diversify materials on curriculum

MINORITY VOTE:With just four students voting at a general assembly of more than 40 members, students would be in the minority, a student representative said

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The mother of Dai Lin, a student who committed suicide during the protests against the government’s curriculum changes last year, second right, and Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung, right, attend a memorial ceremony for Lin outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei yesterday.

 Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

The students who last year protested against the Ministry of Education’s controversial changes to high-school curriculum guidelines and were on Thursday elected to the ministry’s curriculum review committee said they hope to bring more pluralistic materials to curricula by voicing students’ opinions at the committee.

National Chengchi University student Liao Hao-hsiang (廖浩翔) said he was moved by Thursday’s election results that saw four students elected to serve at the curriculum review committee general assembly and 18 students elected to serve in subcommittees.

“I have been waiting for a year for this day to come,” Liao said, referring to last year’s protests, which turned violent when police arrested students who entered the ministry’s compound.

The outcome is the fruition of one year’s work, where students, members of the public and legislators discussed the amendments to the Senior High School Education Act (高級中等教育法) to include students in the curriculum review process, he said.

Liao said he and other students on the committee are planning to hold hearings across the nation to collect students’ opinions on learning materials, as the 22 student representatives on the committee cannot speak for all students.

He said he hopes to gradually change the nation’s top-down education system, in which students do not have a voice on education and are forced to accept whatever materials they are given, so that students can discuss curricula with the ministry on an equal footing and with mutual respect.

The curriculum for Taiwanese history has been largely predicated on a “Sinocentric” view, Liao said, adding that he hopes the curriculum can include Aboriginal perspectives to make history education more inclusive.

However, Liao expressed concern over the committee’s operation, saying that with just four students voting at a general assembly of more than 40 members, students would be in the minority when issues are put to vote.

National Changhua Senior High School student Hsiao Chu-chun (蕭竹均), who is also to serve at the general assembly, said that existing curricula are too “rigid,” as they were created without considering students’ opinions and therefore cannot nurture their passion for learning.

He said that students would be able to vote on issues regarding curriculum guidelines at committee meetings, but they would be excluded from the curricula development process.

“Even so, we will do our best to bring students’ opinions to the committee,” he said.

Separately yesterday, an event was held in front of the ministry in memory of Dai Lin (林冠華), a prominent activist in the campaign against the controversial curriculum guidelines last year.

Lin was found dead on July 30 last year — his 20th birthday — in an apparent suicide.

In a final Facebook post, Lin wrote: “Wish me happy birthday. 8 5 12 16. I have only one wish: then-minister [of education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華)] withdraw the curriculum guidelines.”

Additional reporting by Rachel Lin

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