Curriculum talks fail to reach consensus

Curriculum talks fail to reach consensus
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Student demonstrators are to hold a press conference today at 10 a.m. to address their next step in the anti-curriculum campaign, after talks with Education Minister Wu Se-hwa  failed again yesterday.

Students sat down with Wu at the National Central Library, but the talks again failed to reach a consensus, with the minister agreeing to only one of the students' demands.

Chu Chen, Chen Chien-hsun, and Hsiao Chu-chun, the three student representatives in attendance at the talks, which were broadcast live on the Internet, bowed and apologized to fellow demonstrators for the failed negotiations with the Ministry of Education (MOE) upon returning to the MOE's front courtyard.

Wu's sole promise was to attempt to obtain approval to release the names of the members of the high school curriculum review committee, but he did not address or agree to the other two demands made by the representatives, which were to withdraw or delay the controversial new curriculum and for Wu to stand down as education minister.

Unless the curriculum procedures are proven illegal or unsuitable, the MOE will not cease implementation of the curriculum guidelines, Wu stated.

The contentious guidelines have been in effect since Aug. 1.

Student representatives also accused Wu of being irresponsible, as the minister continually said during the meeting that the approval of the controversial curriculum did not happen during his term of office.

The students said that they believe Wu has the authority to delay the implementation of the curriculum.

Some of the student representatives left the talks before they officially concluded, saying that they were dismayed at how the minister was failing to address their demands and claimed that he was saying the same things as he had two months ago. Chu broke down and cried in the meeting room close to the end of the talks.

"We are willing to accept a delay of the (implementation of the) curriculum," Chu said. He also said that many of the anti-curriculum demonstrators have been talking about "doing the same thing as [Lin] Kuan-hua." Lin Kuan-hua died in an apparent suicide on July 30.

"We have waited two months for this meeting," said Liao Chung-lun, a student speaker who attended the meeting as well. "We left the meeting early because the minister didn't respond to our demands and repeated the same words as in May and June. What is the use in protesting, and sacrificing a life if this is the case?"

Legal or Not

Retired National Taiwan University professor Wu Mi-cha, one three teachers who attended the talks, called for a complete rerun of the curriculum review process, saying "there are still many controversial materials yet to be addressed."

However, Wu responded by saying "this curriculum was published in February 2014. If I decided to announce that the curriculum would be withdrawn, would we be following the regulations properly? If we use this kind of talk to reject a plan that is already in effect, does this make it a black box as well?"

In response to questions on whether the curriculum reform and review process was legal, Wu reiterated that the Control Yuan had deemed the process legal and that prosecutors concluded a case similarly in April, supporting the Control Yuan's judgement.

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