Students who dressed as Nazis at a campus cosplay event demonstrated the failure of the nation’s education system and national ignorance about history, Academics and education groups yesterday said.
Over the weekend, images shared on social media of students marching in Nazi costumes at a school function held by the Hsinchu Kuang Fu High School on Friday sparked a public outcry, and a statement from the Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei described the incident as “deplorable and shocking.”
“We feel that we have not worked hard enough, and have allowed this absurd, ignorant and indifferent attitude toward the universal value of human rights to spread and become an international joke,” said a joint statement issued by Our Story Alliance of History Teachers and Action Coalition of Civics Teacher.
“The students’ lack of empathy to the historical trauma suffered by others shows that Taiwanese history and civic education is in crisis,” said National Taiwan University history professor Hua Yih-fen (花亦芬), who recently published a book entitled Rebirth from the Wounds of History: Germany’s Path to Transitional Justice.
History is not irrelevant to the present, she said, adding: “Events that took place in the past continue to have reverberations in the present, and the incident in Hsinchu proved that Taiwan still has a long way to go on its path toward transitional justice and in dealing with its own historical traumas.”
History textbook guidelines have not allowed students to gain an understanding of human rights or imparted respect for the value of human life and dignity, as the teaching materials used are a mishmash, Hua said.
Humanist Education Foundation executive director Joanna Feng (馮喬蘭) said that modern educational principles emphasize teaching resistance to authoritarianism and totalitarianism through critical thought, but Taiwanese education had largely failed to adopt those standards.
Taiwanese educational practices directly contradict modern principles by consolidating authority through unreasonable discipline and educators are frequently ignorant of or indifferent to democratic values, Feng said.
“School teachers, deans and principals need more work than the students,” Feng said.
Our Story Alliance of History Teachers spokeswoman Huang Hui-chen (黃惠貞) said political indoctrination, by the school system and historical influences by the “New Life Movement” are to blame for postwar Taiwanese society’s indifference to fascism and infatuation with its aesthetics.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) launched the New Life Movement in the 1920s to imitate fascist movements in the West, which led to the institutionalization on campus of militarized uniforms, mandated morning assemblies, teacher-graded weekly diaries, military song contests and military instructors on campus, Huang said, adding that many of those practices still exist.
In the three decades following the end of the Martial Law era, transitional justice and self-reflection in the education system have failed to materialize, Huang said.
“The display of Nazi paraphernalia at the student event in Hsinchu showed that the participants were completely ignorant of the deaths, suffering and inhumanity that the Nazi regime stood for in its 12 years of rule. Their insensitivity and indifference should be frightening to us because it demonstrated they possessed no critical facility to power,” Huang said.
Meanwhile, Action Coalition of Civics Teacher spokesman Chiang Pai-chuan (江佰川) said schools should re-examine their reasons for requiring students to wear militaristic uniforms and check whether fascist ideology had survived in their student codes, and lawmakers should legislate for mandatory classes on social justice and require transitional justice on campus.
“Taiwanese education could not care less whether students understand history; it is merely concerned with how well they do in history exams, after which the students forget everything. To change students, history education must do away with curriculum guidelines and tests,” said social activist Yu Teng-chieh (游騰傑), a student at Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science.
The coast guard on Friday took a Chinese fishing boat and the 17 people on board into custody, after it rammed into a patrol boat while attempting to flee. A 100-tonne coast guard vessel at about 8am discovered a Chinese fishing boat illegally operating in waters about 11 nautical miles (20.4km) northwest of Hsinchu, the Hsinchu offshore flotilla of the Coast Guard Administration said. The crew refused to allow law enforcement to board the ship and attempted to flee, it added. The coast guard vessel and another ship chased the fishing boat for about a half hour, during which time the Chinese boat
Vice President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said that Beijing was trying to “annex” Taiwan, while China said its recent series of drills near Taiwan are aimed at combating the “arrogance” of separatist forces. The Ministry of National Defense earlier this month said that it had observed dozens of Chinese fighters, drones, bombers and other aircraft, as well as warships and the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong, operating nearby. The increased frequency of China’s military activities has raised the risk of events “getting out of hand” and sparking an accidental clash, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said last week. Asked about the spurt
China’s Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong has asked foreign consulates in Hong Kong to submit details of their local staff, which is more proof that the “one country, two systems” model no longer exists, a Taiwanese academic said. The office sent letters dated Monday last week to consulates in the territory, giving them one month to submit the information it requires. The move followed Beijing’s attempt to obtain floor plans for all properties used by foreign missions in Hong Kong last year, which raised concerns among diplomats that the information could be used for
‘ABNORMITY’: News of the military exercises on the coast of the Chinese province facing Taiwan were made public by the Ministry of National Defense on Thursday Taiwan’s military yesterday said it has detected the Chinese military initiating a round of exercises at a bay area in coastal Fujian Province, which faces Taiwan, since early yesterday morning and it has been closely monitoring the drills. The exercises being conducted at Fujian’s Dacheng Bay featured an undisclosed number of People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) warplanes, warships and ground troops, the Ministry of National Defense said in a press statement. The ministry did not disclose what kind of military exercises are being conducted there and for how long they would be happening, but it did say that it has been closely watching