The dead student had intended his suicide to drive action, and sure enough, protesters reached new heights of fury, and they stormed the MOE last night. Cole writes:
The occupation—one of several direct actions in the past two years—occurs after months of snowballing protests over efforts by the government to make “minor” changes to curriculum guidelines. Critics say the process lacked transparency and that the new Sino-centric content imposed by the guidelines distorts history and whitewashes the authoritarian period in the nation’s history. The dissidents also maintain that members of the 10-person committee in charge of the “minor” adjustments, set up by then-minister of education Chiang Wei-ling in January 2014, are not suited to handle the matter. Chief among them is convener Wang Hsiao-po, a vice chairman of the Alliance for the Reunification of China.Occupation is probably a good idea for now, but come the fall the students will have to stage walkouts and sit-ins, and teach-ins. Cole points out that this social activist movement, like preceding ones, is not being orchestrated by the DPP. The KMT accuses the DPP of being behind all these movements, a charge that is completely hilarious to anyone who has ever dealt with DPP Administration. It seems sometimes that they can barely orchestrate coffee for the staff, never mind a major social protest. Instead, the students use social media to organize themselves. The LINE messages of the dead student were posted online, in fact, showing not only that he likely meant to make a statement, but that LINE is a major medium for this kind of communication. Back to Cole...
Lin, who had dropped out of a trade school in June, told a TV talk show that school officials visited his home, pressured his parents, and warned him that if he didn’t cease and desist, his criminal record risked compromising his future job prospects. School officials pointed out that Lin had been a troubled student and that the visit to his home had nothing to do with his suicide.UDN posted a video of a parent trying to take his kid home and being refused (Solidarity with the description). Such scenes were commonplace during the Sunflower movement. The generation of people in their 40s and 50s is timid and fearful, the true Strawberries of Taiwan.
Although the Ministry of Education has said the students are engaged in illegal activities, ironic since back in February the Taipei Court ruled against the changes...
The Taiwan Association for Human Rights challenged the changes in court. Although the Taipei High Administrative Court in February ruled against the ministry’s decision to implement the adjustments, the ministry went ahead with them.To get the changes in, the Ministry has promised that questions about the material will not be on the exam, and also threatened textbook publishers, implicitly, with revocation of permits if the new material is not included.
The curriculum revisions also take place against other sources of student anger: the revised 12 year curriculum is widely despised by students... (Brookings)
Nine-year compulsory education was implemented in Taiwan in 1968. As society and the economy have changed, a 12-year compulsory curriculum was developed and in 2010 the Ministry of Education announced that its development was completed and ready to implement. In 2011, the “Project of the Implementation of 12-year Basic Education [十二年國民基本教育實施計畫]” was audited and set to commence in 2014 – though as noted above the new curriculum itself is not yet being taught. The new curriculum aims to lead instruction in schools, give directions to students, clarify values, and prescribe certain actions (馮朝霖 et al., 2011). A reform of national curriculum concerns must not only attempt to envision the future, but also involves a dialogue on varieties of educational values and the choices amongst them (范信賢, 2010). In other words, a common understanding among a wide range of stakeholders is necessary....and the terrible job market that students are graduating into. The history curriculum with its pro-China changes is an easily identified and obviously abusive "reform", but there's an underlying anger here that student activists could probably find a way to harness.
The KMT of course blamed the DPP for the student's death. *sigh* The KMT news organ reported on Presidential candidate Hung Hsiu-chu's determination to amend the history curriculum once she is in power:
The controversy surrounding adjustments to the high school history textbook guidelines continues to heat up. Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱), Deputy Legislative Speaker and the KMT’s 2016 Presidential candidate, yesterday said on a TVBS political talkshow that if she should be elected President, she would definitely amend the textbook guidelines in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of China.One of the little successes of the protesters is to compel Hung to constantly re-affirm her far-right Chineseness in public. This will be important in creating her image among local voters.
Hung stressed that when the DPP came to power in 2000, the Chen Shui-bian administration had altered, to a great degree, the history textbook guidelines based on a Taiwan-independence movement perspective, and what the Education Ministry was currently doing was to re-adjust the existing history textbook guidelines to conform to the ROC Constitution.
Hung went on to remind the opposition parties that they should not incite young people to violate the law by breaking into government buildings just because the opposition had obtained political gains from last year’s student movement, during which student protesters broke into the Legislative Yuan compound to occupy the legislative chamber for nearly a month in a show of opposition to the cross-Strait Services Trade Agreement.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!