School downsizing may lead to profiteering: union
By Joy Lee, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The National Federation of Teachers Union (NFTU) yesterday said that the Ministry of Interior's (MOI) policy of re-zoning private school land for commercial use could encourage profiteering by private schools.
September 25, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
In an effort to reduce the number of universities and secondary schools amidst a shrinking student population, the MOI has decided to permit private schools boards that sell their land for business use to recoup about 60 to 80 percent of the commercial property value, far higher than the price paid for land zoned for educational use.
The NFTU yesterday held a press conference to indicate their opposition to the MOI's use of this policy to actively encourage the closure of private schools.
Liu Chin-hsu, the chairman of the NFTU, said that many board members of private schools were sold property at a cut-rate because of their personal connections.
“If the school boards can take 60 percent to 80 percent of their property value back,” Liu said, “it will be tantamount to profiteering by private school owners.”
According to the NFTU, one 1,500-ping private school located near an MRT station is worth NT$5.3 billion at current market prices.
“The MOI's policy could become another way to deliver unlawful benefits to some companies,” said Liu.
The NFTU's Secretary-General Chen Cheng-liang said that proposals by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to promote the closure of private schools could encourage these schools to stagnate under the expectation of a big payday at closure.
“Many private schools already prepared to be shut down around eight years ago and were waiting for the potential profits they could make from it,” Chen said, “so the MOE should start looking into how the private schools acquired land in recent years.”
“Many colleges took more students than they could handle,” Chen said, “but the MOE did not intervene, which caused the quality of advanced education to worsen. If the MOE had taken care of the issue sooner, there would be no need to come up with policies to encourage private schools to close down.”
Chen said that the closure of private schools should not be a way for school administrators to make it rich and demanded that the MOE try to improve the educational quality of schools before considering closing them down.
29 Private Schools listed for Closure: MOE
The MOE said that a total of 21 private high schools and eight colleges are listed for eventual closure.
The MOE is considering whether to request listed schools to prepare budgets outlining teaching staff salaries, and said that a meeting will be held next week between education officials and the MOI to discuss what to do with the land of schools that could eventually be shuttered.
According to the MOE, the MOI's policy of revising land usage guidelines is still under discussion and no further details can be confirmed before the meeting takes place.