The Ministry of Education yesterday apologized for a video it released last month promoting the government’s childcare policy amid criticism from anime and manga fans that it disrespected people’s hobbies and preferences.
The Executive Yuan has since 2018 introduced many policies to counter the nation’s declining birthrate. Called the “National Childcare Policy for Ages 0-6,” it includes increasing affordable education and care services, reducing tuition costs, boosting childrearing allowances, and raising salaries for childcare and education personnel to ease the burden of raising a child.
The ministry’s 30-second video depicted a married couple with their two young children returning to the father’s old home to visit their grandmother. The father told his mother that the couple now receive a monthly tuition subsidy for their preschool child and a childrearing allowance for the infant. He also asked her to do him a favor, saying he had bought action figures that would be delivered to her home the next day.
Photo: Rachel Lin, Taipei Times
Handing her some cash, he asked her to pay the delivery person when the toys arrive. The mother replied scornfully: “What? Are you still playing with those figures?” She then arbitrarily used the money to buy what she called “more meaningful” things for her grandchildren — educational books and toys.
The video received more than 4,000 dislikes after it was posted on YouTube, with commenters saying it discriminated against hobbies and interests such as anime, manga and figure collection. Some also wrote that the video’s message was outdated and could discourage people from getting married and having children.
The ministry on Saturday removed the video and issued a statement on Facebook, saying that the plot was not carefully thought out and had raised public concern about disrespecting anime, manga, figure collection and other hobbies.
Apologizing for the incident, the ministry said that it welcomed public scrutiny and supervision.
The ministry yesterday reiterated its apology on Facebook, saying the plot was outdated and offensive, as one of the characters made an inappropriate comment about “buying action figures,” displayed a superiority complex and even used another person’s property without permission.
“The plot runs counter to the core competencies and values of family education, gender equality education and interpersonal relationships in the ministry’s curriculum,” it said, adding that it would humbly reflect on its actions and strive to improve.
“We will avoid putting out discriminatory and biased content that might harm people, and issue guidelines for the ministry’s departments and divisions, so that they can avoid inappropriate plot proposals when commissioning such projects.” it said.
Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) yesterday also apologized on Facebook, saying that on Saturday he had ordered that the video be removed and that a news release be issued to apologize for the inappropriate video.
He added that the ministry would reflect on its actions and continue to emphasize public communication when it makes videos to convey its ideals and values.
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