School guide flawed: commission

COUNTERING TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE::Hua Yih-fen said that some junior-high teachers have complained of textbooks that glorify the ‘political tutelage’ era

By Chen Yu-fu  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Jun 09, 2018 - Page 3

The Transitional Justice Commission has listed four flaws in new curriculum guidelines for the 12-year national education system, which are scheduled to be implemented in September next year.

The flaws are: a lack of content on the 228 Incident and ensuing White Terror era in high-school curricula, an absence of content about the Holocaust, romanticizing the party-state system and claiming that the quest for transitional justice is potentially divisive.

To promote transitional justice, it is the commission’s job to review curriculum guidelines, as well as textbooks and test questions, particularly to see if they purposefully neglect to mention transitional justice or the White Terror era, commission member Hua Yih-fen (花亦芬) said yesterday.

The chapter in the guidelines about the Republic of China government’s arrival in Taiwan and subsequent transformation gives accounts of the incidents in a fashion that runs counter to the spirit of transitional justice and is unhelpful in demystifying how the Chinese National Party (KMT) used the “political tutelage” period as a pretext for establishing party-state rule, Hua said.

The curriculum guidelines fail to discuss the party-state system from a legal point of view, which is not only detrimental to ridding society of the remnants of authoritarian propaganda, but also romanticizes the party-state era, she said.

The KMT had not promulgated the Constitution when it ushered in the Period of National Mobilization against Communist Rebellion in July 1947, and in 1948 it promulgated the Temporary Provisions Effective During the Period of National Mobilization for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion (動員戡亂時期臨時條款), which it used to nullify the Constitution, Hua said.

The chapter should be renamed “Building the Party-state Rule Under Political Tutelage,” to ensure a smoother transition to the chapter on the 228 Incident and the ensuing White Terror era, she said.

Hua said some junior-high school history teachers have complained about textbooks praising the political tutelage period.

While the junior-high school history curriculum includes the White Terror era as a topic, only one hour of class time is allocated to it, which is not enough to provide students with a good understanding of the era, Hua said.

Even more glaring was that the 228 Incident and the White Terror era are reduced to a footnote in a chapter titled “The Pursuit of Autonomy and Democracy: Democracy and Human Rights Movements After World War II,” she said, adding that this approach is no different from curtailing transitional justice, as if the people responsible for designing the guidelines were afraid of making high-school students aware of the topic.

The guidelines in their current form only teach 12th graders about transitional justice in a chapter titled “Modern Warfare and State-induced Violence,” Hua said, adding that it does not mention organizations that should be held responsible for past injustices and claims that the process of pursuing transitional justice could spark ethnic and political conflicts.

The new guidelines should also include chapters on the Holocaust as stipulated in the UNESCO’s guidelines, she said, adding that this would bring Taiwan more in line with other countries.