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Hau slammed over textbook plan

Hau slammed over textbook plan

Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) came under fire yesterday from city councilors and student rights groups after he announced that a controversial "single version textbook" policy would take effect in the city in September 2008.
He also said that once the junior high school students educated under the new policy graduated in 2011, the city government, the Taipei County government, and the Keelung City government would jointly hold a new high school entrance examination for them.
The "single version textbook" policy requires schools to use specific textbooks edited by the government for every subject, in contrast to the current system that gives local schools the freedom to choose from a range of textbooks those that their students will use.
Hau's announcement was harshly criticized by students rights groups and city councilors across party lines, with some arguing that Hau was pushing the policy without thought and that the students were being treated as "guinea pigs."
Lin Wen-hu, the vice chairman of the National Alliance of Parents Organization, described the policy proposed by Hau as "an act playing on the public's ignorance and illusions to manipulate education," one that would would bring catastrophe to Taiwan.
Lin said there was no country in the world that mandates the use of a specific textbook for each course to educate and test school children. He said the proposal actually deprived the schools of their right to select the textbooks they prefer and would cause the quality of Taipei City's education to go downhill.
Taipei City councilors also harshly condemned the policy yesterday.
"The city government has just asked the Council of Grand Justices to determine the constitutionality of the single version textbook policy after the Ministry of Education said it violated the Constitution. If the Grand Justices found the policy to be unconstitutional, would it still be put into practice?" asked Kuomintang Councilor Chen Yu-mei, suggesting the policy was made too hastily.
KMT Councilor Lin Yi-hua echoed Chen's view, and added that the city government did not always have the right to decide every policy.
Democratic Progressive Party Councilor Lee Wen-ying noted that many educational reform groups support the existing textbook policy that empowers schools to make their own choices.
"The single version textbook policy would hurt education and create confrontations between teachers and parents," Lee said.
She suspected that the appeal to the Grand Justices was an attempt to politicize education policy, which would only sacrifice students' rights.
Hau stressed, however, that the city government was not subordinate to the Education Ministry and was not subject to its jurisdiction. He also defended the merits of the policy.
"The current policy which lets schools decide which textbooks to use has actually caused chaos in elementary and junior high schools. Students in different grades are using different textbooks, and parents are so worried that they either buy more textbooks for their children or send their children to more cram schools," Hau said.
He stressed that the single version textbook policy proposed by the city government was not an attempt to fight central government policy or a reversal of education reform measures, but was aimed at lightening students' academic loads.


Updated : 2021-06-16 04:31 GMT+08:00