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September 26, 2017

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Don't encourage students to skip their classes: MOE

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) said yesterday that students should stop encouraging others to skip classes, for it could affect other students' right to learn.

Chiang said that the "Sunflower movement" that triggered bloody conflicts on Sunday night has deviated from its initial intent that drew many students to participate. The confrontation with police arose in response to protesters breaking into the Executive Yuan compound the previous evening to show opposition to the services trade pact with China

According to Chiang, encouraging other students to skip classes not only affects order on campus but also affects other students' right to learn.

"Students should stop engaging in such behavior, in order to prevent violations of school regulations," said Chiang.

All directors of college departments, according to Chiang, are regulated by the Civil Servants Work Act (公務員服務法) and the Public Servants Administrative Neutrality Act, which suggests that they would have to assume administrative responsibility if they deprive students of their right to be educated.

"I believe that the government has heard the students' demands and appeals and it is possible that the government will respond soon," said Chiang. "If there is any appropriate opportunity, as the head of the Ministry of Education (MOE), I am willing to assist the students and the government in conducting positive communication."

When asked if he supported teachers lecturing to students on the street, Chiang said that he respected the independence of schools, and as long as the arrangement of classes can benefit all students, he does not oppose teachers moving the lecture to the street.

"I definitely support students' enthusiasm toward public affairs," Chiang said. "However, students have to stay calm and return to campus as soon as possible, which is what they are supposed to do as students."

"Meanwhile, I hope all the teachers who brought their students to the protest scene will put the students' safety as the priority and protect the students from becoming involving in illegal situations," said Chiang.

End Protest Peacefully: Five College Associations

Five of Taiwan's major college associations issued a press release late Sunday night to ask students to end the protest in a rational and peaceful way and to return to school as soon as possible.

Five associations, including the Association of National Universities of Taiwan, the Association of Private Universities and Colleges, the Association of National Universities of Science and Technology of Taiwan and the Association of Private Universities and Colleges of Technology, said that the students' opinions have been heard, and that the government is probably taking care of the issue now.

According to the press release, the students should stop violating the laws and conducting any behavior that will hurt themselves.

Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池), dean of National Taiwan University (NTU), said that the school is sorry for the protest that caused some students, law enforcement officers and others to get injured.

Yang said that the school complimented students for caring about social issues and actively participating in social activities, but student actions should still obey the law.

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