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MOE: local governments cannot interfere in textbook selection
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-06 04:10 PM
Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling said Thursday that the selection of textbooks for use in classrooms is a matter for school administrators to decide and is not the right of local governments. Chiang’s statement came in response to a decision by the Central Standing Committee DPP on Wednesday that it would boycott the MOE’s announcement of a new course outline for high schools nationwide, to take effect in 2015. If the DPP goes ahead with its plan for a boycott it would affect schools in the six political areas currently under DPP administrations – the cities of Kaohsiung and Tainan and the counties of Yilan, Yunlin, Chiayi and Pingtung.

Chiang told an interviewer Thursday that the new lesson outline had been developed in accordance with constitutional guidelines and was perfectly legal, and stressed that the implementation of such guidelines is carried out in partnership with local education authorities and school officials. He said that when a dispute arises between any of the parties involved they continue to communicate with each other in order to keep things from developing to the point of confrontation. He pointed out that textbooks are written on the basis of lesson outlines prepared by MOE, but that book selection is carried out by the schools, with no input from the central government on which books they should choose.

Taiwan will implement a new 12-year compulsory education system in August this year. On January 27 the MOE decided to make adjustments to high school history course guidelines as part of its coordination efforts in connection with the new system. The new guidelines would go into effect for the 2015 school year.

The DPP charged that the MOE's decision was reached through a non-transparent “black box operation.” The adjustment “takes Taiwan out of the context,” said the party, and warned that it will launch an opposition campaign on three fronts: in the Legislative Yuan, in areas under its administration, and on the streets.

Cheng Hsin-hui, Director of the Kaohsiung City Bureau of Education, said that the main problem is that there was no need for such urgency in adjusting the course outline currently in use. He said he hopes the MOE will maintain the attitude it has in the past and ignore the controversy and just sit down and talk about the issue. As for the six cities and counties that may "resist" the new course outline, Cheng insisted that "There are policies and measures in place" to work out differences of opinion on the selection of teaching materials.

Yilan County Commissioner of Education Wu Ching-yung emphasized that lesson outlines should avoid injecting political views and biases into the curriculum and respect the aspirations and common feelings of the majority of the Taiwanese people. He noted that the Yilan County government will meet with school officials to study the problem of the course outline and school texts.

The DPP has protested that the new guidelines were released little more than a year after the previous set of guidelines were put in place, despite government regulations that call for revisions every six years. Among the changes that were made is the instruction that the era of Japanese occupation of Taiwan should be referred to as the “Japanese colonial period” while China should be referred to as “Mainland China.” The DPP has said that if the issue of textbook selection cannot be settled, schools will simply continue to use current materials that have already been approved in the six cities and counties in Taiwan under DPP administrations.

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