Minister asks teachers to leave politics off campuses

SET EXAMPLE: As a result of complaints of political brawls at schools after the election, legislators asked the Minister of Education to calm the situation down

By Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Mar 26, 2004 - Page 2

Minister of Education Huang Jong-tsun (黃榮村) yesterday urged teachers to not advocate their political preferences at school but to take the opportunity to teach students the spirit of the law and of democracy.

Lawmakers yesterday approached Huang for comment at the Legislative Yuan's Education Committee after receiving numerous complaints from parents about incidents of political brawls at schools.

Huang said that the ministry still places the same emphasis on political neutrality in schools and he hoped that teachers would control themselves and not talk politics in the classroom.

"I understand that teachers have more difficulties educating our children after the elections," Huang said.

"However, it is also a good opportunity to teach students a correct understanding of law and democracy.

"Teachers should control their feelings and political sentiments so that they can have a rational dialogue with students," he said.

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) told Huang of a kindergarten director in Taipei County who asked his teachers to take part in a poll on the Web site and vote "No" to a question on whether the presidential election was fair.

Lo also said that about 200 kindergarten school buses in Taipei County were mobilized to support the pan-blue camp's March 13 rallies.

Huang said that it was inappropriate to drag the election into education, saying, "How is it possible that school education has changed into this?"

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Tuoh (王拓) said that the pan-blue camp's protest against the election result confused children's judgment of right and wrong.

"Schools are now shrouded in an atmosphere of confrontations and hostility," he said.

"Different teachers have different explanations about the election, the protest and even the shooting of the president. Children are perplexed and do not know what is right and what is wrong."

Lo also said that about 70,000 teachers who served as election affairs workers had been defiled by the pan-blue camp's allegations of vote-rigging in the closely contested election and asked Huang to help defend teachers' integrity.

"About 90 percent of teachers who served as election affairs officers have dealt with vote-counting at least twice," Lo said.

"I don't think our teachers would assist the government in cheating. This accusation is a big insult to teachers," he said.

Union of Taiwanese Teachers Director-General Wang Shou-kuo (王壽國) yesterday also said in a press release that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), who did not concede the election defeat yet led people to protest at the presidential office have been bad examples to students.

Wang said the accusations about cheating in the election without any evidence have insulted the integrity of teachers and many public officials.