Monday, June 15, 2009

'Stop Beating Kids'

Today, what I consider to be a shocking article, was published in the China Post (a local English newspaper). The article speaks for itself, so I just posted it here in it's original form:

'Stop Beating Kids'
Published in the China Post on June 15, 2009:

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Up to 88 percent of junior high schools in Taiwan still practice physical punishment as a form of discipline despite repeated instructions to stop from the Ministry of Education, according to the latest survey by the Humanistic Education Foundation (HEF).

The HEF said the survey results indicate that school life for a high ratio of junior high school students aged between 12 and 15 remains miserable.

The HEF survey, covering 250 schools and 1,550 students on the main island of Taiwan, also shows that 91 percent or 223 schools administer the punishment of forcing students to copy handwriting for more than one hour.

As many as 83 percent of schools force students to run laps in the sports field or jump while maintaining a squatting position as corporal punishment.

There are as many as 71 percent of schools disciplining students by paddling their palms or behind, said HEF officials.

Other major forms of corporal punishments include standing, squatting, kneeling or holding heavy objects, which accounts for 62 percent; and verbal humiliation, 47 percent.

Close to 25 percent of schools administer corporal punishment by forcing students to strike themselves or others and teachers at 20 percent of schools slap their student in their faces.

Sixty percent of junior high schools still fail to faithfully comply with the MOE on the policy of normally organizing classes without grouping students based on academic performance. The proportion is higher than the 57 percent failure rate registered in 2008.

Tests have become a routine in most teenagers' daily life.

A great majority of 96 percent of the students said teachers give them tests during daily morning preview sessions that start before the formal study in accordance with scheduled courses.

Up to 40 percent said they have daily tests in the early morning although subjects vary based on curricula schedule.

HEF officials criticized many of the junior high schools for turning themselves into “cram schools” or “testing factories” with the singular goal of preparing the students for getting higher scores in the examinations in order to enter better senior high schools.

For the length of time that junior high students are required to stay at schools, 83 percent of students have to stay for more than 40 hours per week while 2.5 percent reported that they have to stay for as many as 68.8 hours in school because they cannot go home after normal classes end.

Almost 25 percent, or more than 220,000 of the 940,000 junior high students, have to go to schools on Saturdays or Sundays, the survey shows.

MOE officials reiterated that school teachers and educational administrators at the 22 municipal and county governments should all comply with the rules of abolishing the practices of corporal punishment and assigning students to certain classes in line with students' academic performance.

Faculties or schools violating the rules will be referred to the Control Yuan, the nation's highest watchdog agency, for disciplinary actions, they said.

Since I've been in Taiwan I've learned a lot about the school systems here and plan to write more about it in the near future. The subject of corporal punishment, however, was something that I hadn't heard too much about until now - there are always stories from other foreigners about their Taiwanese teaching assistant being too harsh with the kids in the class, but I was quite shocked when I read this article today.

As I am not working in a school (I work for a private company that teaches conversational English to small groups of adults), this isn't something that I deal with personally, so all I can do is say... wow! who knew? I sure didn't!

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