Wed, Nov 29, 2006 - Page 4 News List

MOE tackles teacher issue

NEW MECHANISM After a series of well-publicized cases of abuse by teachers, the ministry made much-needed adjustments that, it hopes, will solve the issue

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fed up with incompetent and ill-behaved school teachers, the Ministry of Education is adjusting its administrative mechanisms to make it easier for schools to probe and sack teachers.

Deputy Minister of Education Lu Mu-lin (呂木琳) held a press conference yesterday to trumpet the new mechanisms amid a deluge of media reports regarding disturbing behavior by elementary, middle and high school instructors.

On Nov. 7, footage of a Changhua County middle school teacher pummeling a student sparked a public outcry.

The beating, which had reportedly occurred in a classroom three days earlier, was captured on a mobile phone video recorder and posted on a Web blog by another student.

Local TV news networks quickly broadcasted the clip, galvanizing the public to pressure the ministry to more carefully vet teachers and punish or dismiss them if needed.

"Among the more than 100,000 public school teachers nationwide, some are less than ideal as instructors," Lu conceded yesterday. He added, however, that such "problem teachers" were extremely few in number.

"The vast majority of teachers are extremely professional and devoted to educating the nation's youth," he said.

Citing a law promulgated in 2003 empowering schools to handle cases regarding unprofessional teachers, Lu claimed that the ministry already possessed the necessary legal infrastructure to crack down on such teachers.

The problem stemmed from a lack of information and human resources, he said.

Ministry Director of Personnel Chu Nan-shyan (朱楠賢), meanwhile, blamed public school principals, whom he claimed were afraid to confront incompetent teachers.

"Many of these principals aren't doing their job," he said, adding that many principals valued harmonious interpersonal relations over cracking down on unprofessional behavior in the classroom.

"The problem is festering under the carpet, so let's rip up the carpet and start cleaning," Chu added.

The ministry proposed legislation last month that would allow the ministry to more easily fire or punish miscreant principals.

Such legislation came in the wake of reports that scores of principals nationwide had recently operated vehicles under the influence, causing traffic accidents, or had otherwise behaved inappropriately after becoming inebriated.

Among the new mechanisms, the ministry has established a communications "window" that gives users easy access to local authorities to report incidents.

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