New textbook guidelines to be launched despite criticism
The new curriculum guidelines for textbooks are to be implemented in August as was previously planned, Deputy Minister of Education Chen Der-hwa ( ) said yesterday, amid intense debate over whether the procedures for drawing up the guidelines was legitimate and whether the new content is in line with historical facts.
Announced in January, just before lunar New Year vacation, the new curriculum guidelines have since drawn criticism from the public, politicians, teachers and even students. The Ministry of Education (MOE) said that they were making “minor adjustments” to the previous curriculum, but opponents, including the Civics Teachers Action Alliance ( ), say the changes amount to large-scale revisions.
The Alliance argues that the new textbooks claim Taiwan is part of China instead of an independent country, and that major anti- government uprisings that were vigorously suppressed by the Kuomintang (KMT) were either omitted from the textbooks or underemphasized, including the 228 incident, 318 incident and the White Terror.
Furthermore, opponents claim that the MOE underwent the revision protest in secret, as the new guidelines were drawn up in matter of weeks, which they claim was extremely irregular. They also claim that the participants on the committee, as well as minutes of meetings and records of votes, were kept confidential.
The Taiwan Association for Human Rights ( ) sued the MOE for violations of the Openness of Government Information Act, with the Supreme Court ruling in their favor in the earlier half of 2015. The court ordered the ministry to release details of the meetings to the public. Wu, however, said later that the MOE would file an appeal and maintained that the decision of the court would not affect the launch of the new guidelines.
On June 9, a seminar was held at National Taichung First Senior High School, which was the first of the four meetings planned for students to communicate with the ministry over the new guidelines on campuses.
Hundreds of Students Ally
Against New Guideline
Students and teachers gathered to protest and ask questions of Wu during the meeting on June 9. Students from more than 221 schools joined together in opposition to the new guidelines. They demanded that the MOE halt all current moves and rethink the content.
Wu maintained that all procedures in establishing the new guidelines were completely legal and that the changes made to the content are just “an accurate recounting of the history of Taiwan.” He said that most quotes protesters cited from the new guidelines were in fact not included in the material.
Legislator Accuses Activists of Steering Student Movements
KMT Legislator Chen Shu-hui (
) said yesterday that Taiwan’s pro-independence activists are manipulating students with vague and incorrect information, driving chaos at schools.
Cross-strait relationships were referred to as “Taiwan” and “China” in the old textbooks. However, the new guidelines now adjust “Taiwan” to “the nation,” and “China” to “mainland China.” Legislator Chen said that there is nothing claiming Taiwan to be an independent country, but that “this exactly how the Constitution refers to the two countries.”