Student protesters pull out of MOE, Cabinet urges education neutrality
Two curriculums are impossible: MOE
The anti-curriculum change student protesters ended their seven-day demonstration in the courtyard of the Ministry of Education (MOE), last night after a ceremony held in memory of the protest spokesperson who allegedly killed himself on July 30.
A representative stated that while they will pull out of the Education Ministry’s courtyard, the anti-curriculum change movement has not ended. Apart from their plans to continually monitor the school textbook selection process nationwide, they will also continue their work back home. “This is not the end,” the students said.
In other developments, Deputy Minister of Education Lin Tengchiao ( ) also stated that according to the current regulations, “it is impossible for two curriculums to co-exist,” and said that the final negotiations between the government and the party caucuses were based upon “one curriculum and multiple versions of textbooks.”
Lin’s response came after demands from Democratic Progressive Party-ruled special municipalities that the MOE reintroduce the 2012 curriculum, which is now referred to as the “old curriculum.”
Education Requires Neutrality
Regulations to avoid future curriculum debates might come in the form of an “Education Neutrality Law,” ( ) suggested by Premier Mao Chi-kuo ( ) during the Cabinet meeting.
Mao hopes to see unbiased education material regulated under such a law. When asked about that laws would cover, Cabinet Spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (
) stated that the premier’s suggestion is “basically an idea,” and he hopes to see an exchange of ideas in the initial stages.
The premier also admitted that the administrative sectors have much to “learn, revise and improve,” and hopes to see neutrality implemented in education. “This will become a historical contribution made by these young people,” Sun said, quoting Mao’s words.
As to who will foot the bill for reprinting textbook expenses, Sun rebutted both Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu ( ) and Tainan City Mayor William Lai’s ( ) claims, saying that the premier only gave instructions to the Education Ministry to “understand and handle the situation accordingly.” Chen stated in an interview that “Premier Mao gave a positive response, saying that the Ministry of Education will foot the bill for the reprinted books.”
Disagreements on who will foot the bill for the textbook expenses surfaced after Chen and Lai visited the Cabinet meeting. Both magistrates demanded that the Education Ministry should cover the costs derived from the schools repurchasing textbooks.
So far, only Taipei City announced its willingness to handle the expenses incurred from contract breaches.
Lin elaborated on the issue of textbook funding after the Cabinet meeting, stating that the ministry will weigh in on providing necessary assistance after talks with schools and textbook publishers, as more costs will be incurred from breached contracts between the schools and publishers.
Talks with publishers will end before the end of August, while Lin suggested holding off discussions with schools until the end of September, when schools have finalized their new textbook selections.
“Schools usually finish textbook selection in May and June, while students get their textbooks after school begins. Regardless whether the new or old curriculum is chosen, students will still need to pay the fees for a single book,” Lin stated. “But publishers will see costs incurred from changing textbooks.”
An anti-curriculum student representative announces the group’s withdrawal from the courtyard of the Education Ministry yesterday, where students protesters demonstrated for seven days. The representative stated that the activists will continue to watch over school textbook selection and continue promoting the movement at home.