Mon, Oct 26, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Children’s welfare advocates say kids are overworked

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Children’s Welfare League Foundation (CWLF) said yesterday that children are being worked too hard because up to 74 percent of them still go to cram school after a full day at school.

“We’re very concerned after we discovered in a recent survey that a lot of children in the country have to go to cram school or childcare centers — which is often just another name for cram school — after attending regular school during the day,” CWLF executive director Alicia Wang (王育敏) told a news conference yesterday. “This is not only bad for children’s health, but the facilities in many cram schools or childcare centers may jeopardize their safety as well.”

Wang citing the results of a survey conducted by the foundation in June with 954 valid samples randomly collected from elementary students across the country.

Besides showing that 74 percent of the children go to cram schools after school, survey results also showed that 58 percent of those children go to cram schools every day Monday through Friday.

While regular school classes for third and fourth graders begin at about 8am, the survey showed that 65 percent of the students stay at cram schools until 8pm and 11 percent stay until after 9pm before they can go home.

“It’s horrible that these kids have to stay away from home taking classes for more than 12 hours a day,” Wang said. “Do they really get enough rest and spend time with their families?”

Wang also voiced concern over the quality of cram schools, and the possible dangers they pose to the students’ safety and health.

Last week, instructors at a Tainan cram school — which was actually registered as a business consulting firm — were accused of asking students to eat fire and glass to train them to overcome fear.

Another fourth grader surnamed Chung (鍾) had to undergo surgery for gastric perforation because he went to two cram schools each day after school and never had dinner at a regular time.

The CWLF investigation also found that many cram schools are located in basements or that minibuses and vans used as “school buses” by cram schools were too crowded.

“Growing up like this is not good for the children’s physical or mental health,” Wang said. “If parents have to send their children somewhere after school, they should find a certified childcare center via official sources, and the government should come up with stricter regulations over cram schools and childcare centers.”

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