Tue, Jul 17, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Education minister installed, vows to fix NTU jam

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Acting Minister of Education Yao Leeh-ter, left, and Minister Without Portfolio Lin Wan-yi, center, hand the official seal of office to newly inaugurated Minister of Education Yeh Jiunn-rong during a ceremony in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

New Minister of Education Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) yesterday said he would communicate with National Taiwan University (NTU) within the next two months with the goal to resolve the controversy surrounding the school’s presidential election.

Yeh yesterday took office as the education minister at a handover ceremony in Taipei that was presided over by Minister Without Portfolio Lin Wan-yi (林萬億).

At the ceremony, Yeh said his priorities are to resolve the NTU controversy and finish curriculum guidelines for the 12-year education system, which is to be implemented next year.

The ministry on April 27 decided not to appoint NTU’s elected candidate, Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔), as the school’s new president on the grounds that there had been a conflict of interest in the election process, instructing the university to hold a new election.

Since then, three administrative appeals have been filed — by NTU students, by the university and by Kuan himself — requesting that the ministry honor the election results and appoint Kuan.

A standoff has existed between the ministry and NTU since the university last month refused to hold another presidential election, he said.

While respecting their decision to file an administrative appeal, Yeh said that such cases typically drag on for years, adding that the university being without a formal president long-term would be damaging to its development.

“I hope that we can find another way to resolve the problem. I will communicate with the university, understanding their needs and the context,” he said.

By being open to dialogue, he hopes to build mutual trust with the school, Yeh added.

The ministry would not leave the nation’s leading university stranded, he said, adding that the university has “many top faculty members and students, and we should ensure that the school continues to be successful.”

“However, this window of communication will not last forever,” he said. “It is important to offer an opportunity, but this will be the only opportunity.”

“The next two months are the best time to resolve this and we must work hard and take advantage of the opportunity,” he added.

Regarding the new curriculum, the ministry plans to complete it before the beginning of the new academic year, he said.

While many had questioned Yeh’s lack of experience in elementary and secondary education, he said he would do his best to learn more about the subject.

“I will work hard on that,” he said. “No matter how much I already know, I will always try to learn more.”

Yeh was earlier this year accused of teaching illegally at China’s Zhejiang University from Dec. 19, 2011, to Jan. 15, 2012, while he worked at NTU.

However, he says he did not break any law, adding that it was a short-term academic exchange for which he was not paid.

When asked whether he received any subsidies for the trip, Yeh said that although he was not paid a salary, he had received subsidies to cover lodging and transportation.

Before taking office, Yeh was the minister of the interior. He was also a professor at National Taiwan University and a minister without portfolio for the Executive Yuan.

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