Par­ties, gov­ern­ment should prac­tice what they preach


Af­ter the failed high school cur­ricu­lum talks on Mon­day be­tween the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Wu Se-hwa and stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry demon­stra­tion, Wu de­fended the cur­ricu­lum’s le­git­i­macy say­ing that the new guide­lines would not be re­moved since the old and the new guide­lines will be en­forced at the same time. Wu echoed the Cab­i­net-led state­ment ear­lier this month. Schools are free to de­cide which ver­sion to use, the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry also an­nounced.

The Kuom­intang (KMT) also re­it­er­ated this stance dur­ing its cau­cus meet­ing yesterday, say­ing that the con­tro­ver­sial ma­te­ri­als be­ing de­bated would not be cov­ered in the ex­ams.

These two state­ments, how­ever, be­lie how the gov­ern­ment and the rul­ing party are fail­ing to prac­tice what they preach, es­pe­cially af­ter fur­ther dis­sect­ing the cur­ricu­lum guide­lines that they have ve­he­mently de­fended. The state­ments have also in­ad­ver­tently im­plied how in the fu­ture, any dis­agree­ments about ed­u­ca­tion should be brought to the lo­cal gov­ern­ment’s doors.

In the in­tro­duc­tion sec­tion of the cur­ricu­lum guide­lines for cour­ses af­fected by the amend­ments, a united theme can be seen: the cul­ti­va­tion of crit­i­cal think­ing — an abil­ity widely ac­claimed and cel­e­brated on pa­per, yet in­sti­tu­tions lack a united re­solve to im­ple­ment it.

If the gov­ern­ment is at­tempt­ing to cul­ti­vate young minds, and to nur­ture crit­i­cal think­ing, should not the stu­dents be tested on both sides of a his­tor­i­cal event, whether it is con­tro­ver­sial or not, rather than let schools de­cide what stu­dents should learn? In such a time- re­stric­tive en­vi­ron­ment, these sup­ple­men­tary ma­te­ri­als are of­ten sac­ri­ficed in the grander scheme, for more re­vi­sions, more time to study other sub­jects.

By treat­ing the con­tro­ver­sial is­sues as a side dish, the gov­ern­ment it­self is down­grad­ing the im­por­tance of his­toric events that all fu­ture stu­dents have the right to un­der­stand, to learn from, and to see that history steers clearly away from re­peat­ing mis­takes.

Should the gov­ern­ment con­tinue to ad­vo­cate such a mind­set, such a new-old in tan­dem ap­proach, schools and teach­ers will con­tinue to fol­low — stu­dents’ bright fu­tures will then be sac­ri­ficed. Sim­i­larly, com­pa­nies that be­moan a lack of stu­dents with vi­tal think­ing skills should no longer look to univer­si­ties for im­prove­ment, but rather to high schools and the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

Rel­e­vancy and Legacy

Tai­wan’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem has been crit­i­cized for its exam-cen­tric meth­ods. All sec­tors in­volved have dis­played their in­abil­ity to be “rel­e­vant” in the public eye. Rel­e­vancy, in this case, is not just about show­ing sup­port for stu­dent­let demon­stra­tions, but rather ad­dress­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive woes through dif­fer­ent ap­proaches. The public is fed up with an in­com­pe­tent gov­ern­ment; cit­i­zens do not trust the gov­ern­ment at all. Both gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and po­lit­i­cal par­ties should cease avoid­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity. They should in turn, con­sider this: what should be this gov­ern­ment’s legacy?

The KMT and the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party ( DPP) came to a rare agree­ment yesterday, with the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion ac­cept­ing their olive branch and agree­ing to a cur­ricu­lum re­view meet­ing be­fore the end of Au­gust. How­ever, it must be re­it­er­ated that the po­lit­i­cal par­ties must over­see the pro­ceed­ings to avoid another con­tentious de­bate.

The anti-cur­ricu­lum cam­paign is an op­por­tu­nity for both the gov­ern­ment and the rul­ing party to push for­ward a sub­stan­tial ed­u­ca­tion re­form. Oth­er­wise, what they have been at­tempt­ing to ad­vo­cate in the past eight years is merely a dog whis­tle for po­lit­i­cal correctness, and will fall on deaf ears, much like its de­bated cur­ricu­lum.

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