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New textbook guidelines can't be dropped unless illegal: minister

New textbook guidelines can't be dropped unless illegal: minister

Taipei, Aug. 3 (CNA) Facing protesters' strong demands for the withdrawal of revised curriculum guidelines for senior high school textbooks, Education Minister Wu Se-hwa said Monday that the guidelines have gone through the required administrative procedure and that if anyone wants to have them withdrawn, they must prove they are "illegal or inappropriate."
The revisions to the curriculum guidelines began in August 2013, one year before he took office, Wu said during a meeting with students opposed to the revised guidelines -- which were implemented Aug. 1 -- and teacher representatives, at the National Central Library in Taipei.
Before he even started serving at the Ministry of Education (MOE) last August, the revisions had been concluded and the revised version of curriculum guidelines was publicized in February last year, Wu said.
"The procedure has been finalized," the minister stressed, adding that unless the revisions are proven to be illegal or inappropriate, the guidelines cannot be withdrawn.
Wu reaffirmed the impossibility of dropping the controversial curriculum guidelines while talking with the students who are leading a protest rally that has surrounded the MOE compound.
Citing a probe by the Control Yuan, the state's highest supervisory organization that exercises the powers of impeachment, censure, and audit, Wu added that nothing illegal was found in the process of the revisions.
However, he admitted that the relevant public hearings had not been held perfectly, and for this fault, the MOE has apologized. To those people questioning the imperfections in the curriculum guideline amendments, "the truth is there are not many findings of the alleged faults," Wu said.
The first face-to-face talks between Wu and the protesting students were also attended by three teacher representatives and one envoy of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights.
The much-anticipated talks failed to produce consensus on the students' demand for a halt to the implementation of the guidelines.
Nevertheless, the minister offered four "goodwill" measures during the talks, including that the MOE will list 17 disputed revisions to the high school history curriculum guidelines as "complementary appendices" and that the selection of textbooks at schools will be fully respected, Deputy Education Minister Lin Teng-chiao cited Wu as telling the press after the talks.
The MOE will also try to acquire an agreement from the high school curriculum review committee to publicize the names of the committee members, which was another of the protesters' demands, Lin said, adding that the ministry will also launch a "rolling amendment" procedure on the implementation of the changed curriculum guidelines.
During the meeting, Chu Chen, the chief convener of the Northern Taiwan Anti-Curriculum Changes Alliance, burst into tears at one point when speaking of the suicide of Lin Kuan-hua, one of the protest leaders.
Lin was found dead at home the day after he was accused of breaking into the MOE compound during a protest in late July. Chu said many of the protesting students have claimed they want to do the same thing as Lin.
The protesters have taken to the streets in recent weeks to oppose the curriculum guidelines, which they say "are presented from the perspective of Chinese unification."
The protest rallies included student activists climbing over a police barrier late July 31 into the forecourt of the MOE building, from where they have been confronting police ever since.
Failing to acquire a promise from Wu to withdraw the changed curriculum guidelines, the three student leaders attending Monday's talks returned to the protest rally at the MOE forecourt and told their supporters there that they were sorry for having not accomplished their mission.
Saying they will not stop protesting, the trio -- Chu, from Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School, Hsiao Chu-chun, from National Changhua Senior High School, and Chen Chien-hsun, from National Taichung First Senior High School -- announced that they will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. the following day in the MOE forecourt to announce their next plans for the protest. (By Hsu Chih-wei, Yu Kai-hsiang and Elizabeth Hsu)


Updated : 2021-09-19 07:35 GMT+08:00