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Taiwan: Classical Chinese works trivial for students
Updated: 2004-11-26 09:43

Taiwan's education head official said on Thursday that much of Chinese literature is not relevant to contemporary life and proposed that students shouldn't be required to read weighty tomes of Chinese classics.

The Education Ministry wants high school literature textbooks to include more works from contemporary Taiwanese writers, saying they are easier and more practical.

Citing a passage of Chinese poetry, Education head official Tu Cheng-sheng told reporters such works may be beautiful, but weren't very relevant to the modern Taiwanese experience.

Taiwan has had close historic links with China, as most Taiwanese' ancestors were immigrants from China.

But in view to the present reality between the straits the island wants to carve out a separate Taiwanese identity from China by focusing on local culture.

Many teachers objected to the proposed textbook change. They said authorities only want to further distance students from mainland China.

Warning the move could lower Taiwan's literary standards, some teachers said Chinese writers had created some of the world's greatest literature over the past 1,000 years, and their fine works should continue to make up at least 60 percent of literature textbooks.

"Articles should be selected mainly from the angle of the Chinese language and literature values," said Ke Ching-ming, a professor of Chinese literature at a Taiwan university.

"Not enough contemporary Taiwan writers could meet the high standards," he said.

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