Students demand answers from Wu

PROTEST PREPARATIONS::National Taichung First Senior High School’s Apple Tree Commune Club said that it was making plans to put more pressure on the minister

By Su Meng-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Jun 11, 2015 - Page 3

Students yesterday urged Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) to answer questions about controversial curriculum guidelines for textbooks “sincerely,” or risk seeing students take to the streets in protest.

The first of four planned meetings on campuses for students to communicate with the ministry over the proposed guidelines — to be implemented in August — was held at National Taichung First Senior High School on Tuesday night.

It ended in chaos at about 8pm at an entrance to the campus, where several dozen students stood hand-in-hand to block the car carrying Wu from leaving after the two-hour meeting.

The protesters demanded that Wu apologize to students for being evasive in answering questions they raised at the meeting.

“Students are not rioters,” Apple Tree Commune Club spokesperson Liao Chung-lun (廖崇倫) said in a statement released yesterday.

To disrupt what they called the “unequal power relationship” between the ministry and the students, “the only weapon we have is our bodies,” the high-school group’s spokesperson said.

The ministry repeatedly said that Wu was there to listen to what the students have to say and to communicate with them about the guidelines in a sincere manner, Liao said.

“However, he did not answer our questions in good faith,” Liao added.

Liao said the move to block Wu’s vehicle from leaving was to let the minister know that his replies skirted around the students’ questions rather than facing them squarely.

Club member Chen Chien-hsun (陳建勳) said that some of the students were hit by Wu’s bodyguards — who allegedly elbowed them in the melee — adding that the students condemned the use of violence by Wu’s entourage.

The second and third meetings are to be held at National Tainan Senior High School and the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei on Saturday, while the fourth is planned for National Hsinchu Senior High School on Sunday.

“We are formulating plans — for example, a rally — to have the minister face up to his political responsibility if he continues to be evasive in the next three meetings,” Chen said.

Wu said yesterday that his dialogue with students should be conducted in a peaceful and rational manner, adding: “Campuses should be free from political interference.”

Action Coalition of Civics Teachers spokesperson Huang Yi-chung (黃益中) said Wu’s implication that the students were politically motivated in their opposition to the guidelines was wide of the mark.

It was the curriculum adjustment task force led by Wang Hsiao-po (王曉波), a professor at Shih Hsin University known for his pro-unification stance, who injected politics into the curriculum guidelines, said Huang, who is a teacher at Taipei Municipal Dazhi High School.

“How could Wu stigmatize students and teachers?” Huang asked. “Is being the minister of education such a prize that he has to create rumors to keep his job?”