History professor Wu Kun-tsai (吳昆財) on Monday said that he would initiate a referendum in 2020 to reintroduce Chinese history content that was removed from new high-school curriculum guidelines, the Chinese-language China Times reported yesterday.
Work to prepare the referendum proposal has already begun and the tentative referendum question is: “Do you agree the history curriculum for high schools should be changed back to how it was traditionally?” the newspaper quoted Wu as saying.
He plans to begin collecting signatures for the referendum in April, when he would have obtained more resources and support, and to hold the referendum in 2020 alongside the presidential and legislative elections, it said.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Wu is a leading figure in a campaign to “save Chinese history” launched last month by a group of history teachers.
The group has opposed a new history curriculum the Ministry of Education approved in August that adopted a theme-based approach and made Chinese history part of a theme called “China and East Asia,” with the other two themes being “Taiwan and the World” and world history.
The new curriculum, which is to be implemented in the next academic year, has been described by the group as an attempt to “desinicize” Taiwan. It is in stark contrast to the current, or traditional, version, which requires students to learn Chinese history in a strict chronological order from prehistory.
The ministry has defended the new curriculum, saying that it would enable students to “not only learn about Chinese history, but develop a structured and rich understanding of its connections to global history.”
Many opponents of the new curriculum had as early as August suggested launching a referendum on the issue, but the plan was postponed as it needed more time and resources, Wu was quoted as saying.
By holding the referendum alongside the presidential election, he hopes to urge presidential candidates to clarify their stance on “whether future generations should study Chinese history,” a question he said is closely related to national status and cross-strait policies.
He understands that referendums are expensive and energy-consuming, but they are “the last resort to protect popular sovereignty,” Wu was quoted as saying.
“The nation should be run by experts. That the public has to hold a referendum to decide policy directions shows that the government is failing. If everything has to be solved by referendum, what do we want a government for?” he was quoted as saying.
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