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KMT government is not backing down on the military instructor issue

28/11/2008

 

On 6th November, a letter[1] was sent to all universities from Military Training Division, Ministry of Education to ask all universities to report to them the maximum number of military instructors needed for their university. The content was as follows:

 

          The reason for this request is as follows:

         

Since July 2008, there are already 50 universities and colleges that requested an increase of military instructors to meet the needs of campus security, student military training and student counselling. A number of legislators have also conveyed several times the view that MoE should respect universities’ freedom of adjusting their stance on the current policy in order to ensure military instructors’ career advancement. On 3rd November 2002, several legislators proposed a freeze on spending on student affairs admin personnel and asked the Ministry to investigate the genuine level of needs for military instructors in all universities to inform the planning of military personnel in universities.

 

Please tell all heads of military training offices:

 

1.   The current policy of not replacing retired/resigned military instructors is likely to change. Therefore, our division has to estimate the total number o military instructors needed by all universities and use this as a bargaining chip with the Minister (of Education) and to counteract the rumour started by Student Affairs Committee (e.g. most of universities don’t want military instructors… etc.)

2.   The current form has to be filled in after discussions with heads of student affairs and the chancellor of the university and jointly signed by them before returning to our division. To ensure the continuous running and development (存續 ) of universities, please do your best on justifying the maximum number of military instructors (Question: Was he implying that an university will stop developing or even close down if they don’t do as told? Or was this just a very lame excuse?)

3.   All universities under the jurisdiction of Taipei City do not have to fill in the number before 2nd September 2006. Only the number of current staff and maximum number needed are requested as those universities are not part of the planning for student affairs admin personnel.

4.  The number of vacancies available for this coming winter vacation all depends on the results from this survey. Please can everyone help.

 

In a Education Committee meeting in the Parliament, Minister of Education announced[2] yesterday that the policy of not replacing retired military instructors will only last for another three years . He added that although the policy is in place for another three years, universities and colleges are allowed to make their own decisions on this matter (i.e. if they want to employ more military instructors, that’s fine too). This is a change from the MoE’s previous announcment. The Minister praised military instructors for their contribution to campus security and promised that military instructors will NOT be taken away from campus. The minimum number of military instructors in universities is now set at 694. It makes one wonder how and why a division head of MoE had the audacity to put in writing that the current policy may change when MoE was at the time standing firm on that policy and try to use universities to put pressure on his boss. It is also puzzling what has made the Minister change his tune. DPP legislators suspect that there’s someone more powerful than MoE behind all this.

 

When asked by the KMT legislator, Kuo, Su-chun who do not need military instructors, only the chancellor of National Taiwan University raised his hand and said that ‘No military instructor’ has been a formal NTU policy for 15 years. When I watched the news clip on this, Chancellor Lee did not cave when Kuo yelled at him, asking ‘Why? You think you NTU people are so intelligent, more intelligent than everyone else, that you don’t need military instructors?’

 

In terms of senior high schools, MoE and a lot of high schools, teachers and parents expressed their approval of the proposal of having a military instructor head the student counselling office. It was argued that counselling offices are also responsible for the management and disciplines of student behaviour, which a lot of teachers don’t want to get involved in. They see putting a military officer in charge as the solution. MoE Chief Secretary said that senior high schools are not the same as universities and therefore military instructors will remain in high school education.[3]

 

If the above was true, the justification for making military instructors in charge of counselling offices reflects a profound misunderstanding of counselling and a serious lack of specialism in relation to this. Counselling can only work when confidentiality and impartiality are in place. It seems that after 50 years of KMT education, some people believe it’s normal for a military officer to discipline their children at school and OK to let military personnel take the burden of discipline off teachers who are professionally trained to teach and deal with student difficulties and behaviour. Sadly, the KMT does not show any inclination to convey the right concept. Rather, they are using this to bring back a non-democratic and outdated practice.

 

Relevant post:

[1] http://blog.roodo.com/weichen/archives/7713167.html

[2] http://www.libertytimes.com.tw/2008/new/nov/28/today-p2.htm

Military personnel on campus in Taiwan

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