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Education minister accepts responsibility for curriculum row

2015/07/30 19:56:09

Education Minister Wu Se-hwa (吳思華)

Taipei, July 30 (CNA) Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) said Thursday he would shoulder full responsibility for the controversy arising from the ministry's adjustments to the senior high school history curriculum guidelines after a student protester opposed to the revisions allegedly committed suicide earlier that day.

On his 20th birthday, Lin Kuan-hua (林冠華), a student at Juang Jing Vocational High School in New Taipei before dropping out of the school in June, was found dead by emergency workers summoned by his mother Thursday morning, according to the New Taipei Fire Department.

He apparently had locked himself in a room and committed suicide by burning charcoal to generate a lethal dose of carbon monoxide fumes.

The previous week, he had been released on a NT$20,000 (US$634) bail after being detained for around 20 hours for storming the Ministry of Education building with other protesters late on July 23.

He was one of 33 people arrested in the early hours of July 24 and faced possible prosecution along with 23 other alleged intruders.

After visiting Lin's family, Wu refused to comment on media speculation over the possible cause of death of Lin, who had served as a spokesman for the anti-curriculum campaign.

Lin reportedly had expressed his wish for the ministry to withdraw its new guidelines before his death.

Wu said that he had clearly stated he would like to have a face-to-face dialogue on the issues related to modifying the history curriculum guidelines with the 24 student protesters arrested for intruding into the Ministry of Education buildings last week.

Wu emphasized that he has been continuing to communicate with the student protesters, including Lin, on the matter, saying he felt deep regret that Lin's death could not have been prevented.

He noted that the ministry officially announced on June 5 that both the new and old curriculum guidelines will be applicable and it is up to teachers to decide which textbook they will use.

New Taipei City Education Department chief Lin Teng-chiao(林騰蛟) said that the deceased student's mother told him he had suffered emotional disorders and received mental health consultations for his problems and that his death was unrelated to the controversial adjustments to the curriculum guidelines.

Meanwhile, a parents association on Thursday urged the ministry to drop the charges against student protesters who were arrested last week for breaking into the MOE compound and occupying the education minister's office.

(By Chen Chih-chung, Wang Hung-kuo, Liu Jian-bang and Evelyn Kao)