Taiwanese Students Resist Mandatory Confucian Studies

China Realtime Report describes the controversy surrounding Taiwanese plans to reform unruly youths with compulsory Confucian studies:

In February Taiwan’s Ministry of Education said it planned to require Taiwan high school students to study what is known as the “four books”– the Analects of Confucius, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Great Learning, and Mencius– in order to combat widespread bullying, drug use and gang problems among Taiwanese youth ….

Student behavior has become an increasingly hot issue in Taiwan after a report came out last year that a principal at a middle school ignored a string of bullying incidents. The ministry also announced in February an anti-bullying campaign would be carried out in the island’s elementary and middle schools ….

The ministry’s effort to turn back the educational clock comes as authorities in mainland China are also seeking to revive interest in Confucius, partly to fill the moral vacuum left when the Communist Party decided to embrace late leader Deng Xiaoping’s exhortation that “to get rich is glorious.” Beijing installed a 31-foot bronze statue of the sage on the east side of Tiananmen Square in January and threw its weight behind an expensive (though widely panned) Confucius bio-pic starring Hong Kong’s Chow Yun-fat last year.

While some on the mainland have appeared to embrace the return to Confucian morality, critics say the effort is more a soft power play (government-backed Chinese language schools abroad are managed by an entity called the Confucius Institute), than a genuine effort to reform society.

Taiwan is also attempting to use education abroad as a soft power tool, according to a report in the Gambian Today newspaper:

The Republic of China on Taiwan has, through its embassy in The Gambia, issued Mandarin scholarships to Gambians who wish to study in Taiwan from six months to one year through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was highlighted in a news release issued by the Embassy on Tuesday.

According to the release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan established the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Huayu (Mandarin) Enrichment Scholarship (MOFA HES) Programme in 2010.

The scholarship aims to promote friendship between the people of Taiwan and her diplomatic allies as well as give the recipients a better understanding and appreciation of Taiwan’s rich culture.

This opportunity which would be henceforth offered each year will enable young people not below 18 years from The Gambia and elsewhere in the world, to learn about Chinese language at no cost.

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