Students opposed to controversial curriculum changes have launched a movement “within the establishment” to complement their activism, collecting legislators’ and legislative candidates’ signatures for a project that calls for not only the withdrawal of the adjusted curriculum, but also the codification of the curriculum adjustment process.
Student representatives held a press conference with a number of legislators and legislative candidates yesterday, saying that while they have had to resort to storming the Ministry of Education building after repeatedly receiving “meaningless and disingenuous responses” from the government, they are also pushing a project aimed at lawmakers for an “intra-institutional” action.
“The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) cannot shirk its responsibilities as the major opposition party. However, when its chairperson, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), said that she would bear complete responsibility for the issue if the DPP becomes the ruling party, contrary to what might be expected of us, we are actually worried about such rhetoric, as it signifies that political forces could continue to intervene in our education system,” Taoyuan High School Alliance spokesperson Liao Hao-hsiang (廖浩翔) said.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
“Without the codification of the curriculum adjusting procedure, political forces can, as we all are now witnessing, easily influence our education,” he added, saying that Tsai has not tabled a clear platform on the issue.
“Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), on the other hand, persistently alleged the student activism has been instigated by the DPP. We are here to sternly clarify that the curriculum issue is not a blue-green or unification-independence struggle,” Liao said. “This is an action for pursuing truth, educational dignity and academic professionalism.”
Tainan Secondary School Student Anti-curriculum Front representative Kuo Tsu-hsin (郭子信) said the students “strongly condemn” the attempts by the KMT.
Anti-black-box Curriculum Action Alliance representative Tu Yu-yin (涂予尹), who is also a Taiwan Association of Human Rights lawyer, railed against Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) for saying he “has no right to withdraw the adjusted curriculum.”
“The ministry maintains that the curriculum adjustments are an administrative matter, rather than a legal matter. If that is so, according to the Administrative Procedure Act (行政程序法), it could then be “abolished by the agency that promulgated it,” which is the Ministry of Education, Tu said.
Tu said that the curriculum-adjusting controversy this time is not an individual issue.
“Our intermediate goal is to examine and supervise the 12-year education guidelines, which has so far failed to meet transparency standards,” Tu said.
“The long-term goal, which pertains to a problem that the students have also noticed, is the legislation of the curriculum adjustment procedure, which concerns publishers’ rights, the students’ rights to learn and teaching freedom for teachers,” Tu said.
Students said they have contacted 147 legislators and legislative candidates who signed their petition and the DPP, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, the People First Party, the Green Party, the Social Democratic Party, the New Power Party and several candidates without party affiliations, including social activist Wang Pao-hsuan (王寶萱) and Aboriginal activist Mayaw Biho, who support their cause.
“While at least seven KMT lawmakers voiced their opposition clearly, 85 percent of them refused to make public their stance, which is actually curious, as we would have thought that they would state their strong opposition. Instead they tried to keep their stance unclear,” Liao said.
The students said KMT Legislator Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) was the only KMT lawmaker who had expressed her support.
However, KMT Legislator Chang Chia-chun (張嘉郡) of Yunlin County has also endorsed the students. She said yesterday that she agrees that an extraordinary session should be called and the curriculum withdrawn.
Exiled Chinese dissident Wuer Kaixi is among the legislative candidates without party affiliations who have expressed support for the students.
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