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MOE head denies forcing schools to take attendance

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) yesterday denied a legislator's allegation that the ministry had demanded that all universities enforce the taking of attendance after students occupied the Legislative Yuan.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) questioned Chiang during an Education Commission meeting, saying that many colleges have complained that the Ministry of Education (MOE) asked all the schools to take strict attendance after students occupied the Legislative Yuan.

Chen also questioned whether the MOE allows teachers to arrange classes without restrictions.

Chiang said that the MOE did not issue such an order to universities.

“The MOE definitely respects the independency of teachers,” said Chiang. “If the legislator cannot provide any evidence, this is an act of smearing.”

Chiang said that the MOE will never intervene with teachers' schedules and how they arrange their classes and exams.

“The MOE did demand that schools and professors stay academically and administratively objective regardless of their stance on the Sunflower Movement in order to avoid affecting school affairs,” said Chiang.

He also said that schools cannot treat students who participate in the Sunflower Movement differently, and teachers should not move the classroom outdoors for it might affect students who do not wish to join the movement.

When Chen criticized Kuomintang (KMT) legislators for obeying the party's order to vote in the Legislative Yuan, which caused the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement to be passed in 30 seconds, KMT legislators yelled that Chen should ask Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) first.

Legislators from both parties engaged in furious argument for a few minutes before the meeting could continue.

Students Crossed the 'Red Line': Chiang

Chiang said yesterday that students' actions of occupying the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan had crossed “the red line.”

“Those actions are not legal nor right,” said Chiang.

“It is true that universities should encourage students to care about public affairs, but they should make their appeals heard through rational and peaceful measure,” said Chiang.

The eight national universities principles and presidents who were invited to attend the Education Commission meeting also expressed their concerns regarding the students' actions.

National Taiwan University President Yang Pan-chyr (楊泮池) said that it is necessary for students to pay attentions to important social issues, but they should not violate regulations.

Hong Ho-cheng (賀陳弘), president of National Tsing Hua University, said that students' occupation of the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan were not appropriate.

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