December 15, 2023
BEIJING – A video of a teacher from Taiwan criticizing education guidelines introduced under the ruling Democratic Progressive Party authorities on the island that attempt to sever cultural ties across the Taiwan Strait, has sparked discussions on both sides.
In the video that was published across a range of online platforms, Ou Kui-chih, who has taught Chinese literature at Taipei First Girls’ High School for some 30 years, criticized the curriculum in Taiwan, saying the education reform on the island was guided by a “de-Sinicization” principle.
The current curriculum guidelines introduced in 2019 in Taiwan under the DPP authorities for middle school students have lowered the must-read pieces of classical Chinese literature from 30 to 15.
Cutting the percentage of classical Chinese to be taught in textbooks is “shameless”, Ou said, adding that students were no longer able to learn about important values contained in those classics.
Her comments were made at a meeting attended by a group of Taiwan teachers reviewing the current education policies in Taiwan held earlier this month.
The current curriculum in Taiwan has raised criticism before, such as teaching the history of China in the broader context of East Asia rather than singling it out.
Ou’s video has struck a chord with many people on both sides.
Ma Ying-jeou, the island’s former leader, expressed his respect for the teacher online. He said that the DPP should deeply reflect on the problem in the curriculum and not disappoint the teachers, students, parents and society.
Hou Yu-ih, Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang candidate for the island’s leader election in January, said that if elected, he would review the guidelines.
Lai Ching-te, the DPP’s candidate, said the guidelines were for reference only, according to a Taiwan media report.
Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said on Wednesday in Beijing that “the teacher has voiced the deep concerns shared by many teachers, parents and experts in Taiwan and it was the voice of justice”.
The DPP authorities have made every effort to sever cultural connections between the two sides of the Strait and mislead Taiwan people, causing confusion in the historical memory and national identity of the younger generation in Taiwan, Zhu said.
Any acts of “de-Sinicization “cannot change the ingrained Chinese cultural and national identity in Taiwan society, she said.