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Tuesday, May 01, 2007


KMT Wants Control of History

Since the late 1990s the Taiwan government has introduced a series of reforms in the local education designed in part to eradicate the Chinese colonialist history that was the norm during the era of one-party rule. Among these were changes in the textbooks. An important change was permitting local schools to select their own textbooks, rather than forcing all schools to use one textbook. This has led to great local variation in education, as well as immense profits for textbook makers. It has also led to a much greater focus on the history and culture of Taiwan.

Mayor Hau Lung-bin of Taipei recently announced an attempt to erect a separate textbook kingdom in northern Taiwan, a little taste of what will happen in 2008 if Ma Ying-jeou wins.

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 denied that the purpose of the plan was to roll back the changes the DPP has made, but it can't be a coincidence that the areas named have traditionally been KMT strongholds where the Blues can count on control of the system to enforce their will. The Ministry of Education has already nixed the idea, but Hau has claimed the city government is not under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education. This claim is not empty; Taiwan's arcane system recognizes several levels of government, counties and cities like Taichung county or Changhua city, and then provinces (like Taiwan island and its associated islands) and municipalities, which are technically equivalent. Taipei and Kaohsiung are municipalities, and are technically equivalent to the whole island of Taiwan, a "province". Hence the mayors of these two cities have enormous clout in the system and jurisdictions are not as clear as they might be.

Hau can also count on sympathy because many around the island feel that the DPP's textbook decision has resulted in "chaos." Parents claim that the quality of the textbooks has fallen (it certainly isn't high, and from what I can tell, wasn't ever very good). The Blues can count on this in their drive to roll back DPP progress if they win in '08.

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At 9:05 AM, Blogger channing said...

I'm not sure if DPP "progress" is the politically correct term for textbook revisionism.

Most of my numerous Taiwanese friends and their parents are against the Taiwan-centric revisionism, mainly because Taiwan history is much more poorly recorded compared to Chinese history. Therefore the perception is that Taiwan's history as a civilization is too fragmented and there is much less to learn. Many of them feel that education revisionism is a disguised political gimmick for deep-green China bashers, and that Taiwan-centric history is easily self-learned. Some have also said that Taiwan-centric history should belong in a subset of the history of the greater Chinese region, and I'm inclined that way as well.

Wherever the KMT holds regional control after 2008, I think rolling back textbook revisions will face very little opposition.

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hardly revisionist to correct former propaganda...

At 11:36 AM, Blogger nostalgiphile said...

"Wherever the KMT holds regional control after 2008, I think rolling back textbook revisions will face very little opposition."

If so, it only demonstrates the depth and degree of past KMT propaganda among teachers/professors in TW.

RELATED NOTE: the title of this post is ambiguous--it should be "KMT wants to RETAIN control of history," or "KMT doesn't want to give up control of history," as up until only recently they have authored, edited, and censored Taiwan's history. Minor quip, great post.

(apologies if this was submitted twice)


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