Thu, Oct 11, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Schools rethink invoice collections

By Lee Li-fa, Hou Chian-chuan and Huang Liang-chieh  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Several colleges around the country have revoked a policy that allowed students to wipe out demerits by collecting sales slips or invoices. Some parents had complained that the practice was unfair to students from less well-to-do families and could be counterproductive in moral terms.

People can win money if the numbers of their receipts match numbers drawn by the government in the bimonthly Uniform Invoices Lottery. The prizes range from a few hundred dollars to NT$2 million (US$60,000).

The Genesis Social Welfare Foundation and other civic groups and charities began collecting the invoices several years ago. It has become a common sight nationwide to see young people holding boxes and asking for invoices from passers by.

Some schools had allowed their students to receive a lesser punishment if they could collect a certain number of invoices. One report said that schools in Pingtung County collected more than 258,000 invoices last year alone.

Although the initial idea was to have the students help these charities raise funds, some parents were worried the practice was sending the wrong message to the students.

They wondered if collecting invoices from strangers as a punishment was effective in helping the students learn about humanitarian work or even understand what they did was wrong.

Some suspected that the schools were keeping the invoices to make money.

National Pingtung Senior High School has denied mishandling invoice collections, but agreed that some students had abused the policy by demanding invoices from classmates or family members.

A school in Taipei County said that instead of using the collection of invoices as a way to exact punishment, it had turned the collection into an competition between classrooms. This way, the school said, students would be collecting invoices to win points, not to avoid responsibility for their actions.

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