In a bid to curb the growing problem of bullying on campus, the Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday proposed specifying the government’s responsibility to protect children from bullying in the Education Fundamental Act (教育基本法).
During a briefing on the ministry’s anti-bullying measures at the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee, Minister of Education Wu Ching-ji (吳清基) said the ministry would like to amend Article 8 of the act, to stipulate that every student should be protected from physical or psychological bullying.
The current act only lists protection of students’ rights to education, learning and character development, as well as protection from physical abuse as the government’s responsibility.
If the proposal clears the legislative floor it will be the first time government responsibility to combat bullying has been written into law.
The MOE, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice were invited to report their anti-bullying plans to the committee in the wake of increasing media reports of school bullying.
During a question-and-answer session with legislators later in the meeting, Wu expressed reservations about introducing military instructors to elementary and junior high schools to help curb bullying.
Military instructors are present in high schools or universities, and they are mainly tasked with teaching military classes and student discipline.
However, the MOE has promised to gradually reduce the number of military instructors on campus because their presence has been criticized as a legacy of the authoritarian era.
Wu, meanwhile, was grilled after conceding that he did not learn of a case of campus violence last Friday until yesterday morning.
A teacher in Kaohsiung was reportedly chased by a student wielding a broomstick after asking the student not to sleep in class.
By law, school authorities should report a case of bullying or campus violence to the ministry’s Campus Security Center within 24 hours of learning of the case.
Calling the delay in Wu’s knowledge of the case “ridiculous,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊瓔) said it highlighted problems with the MOE’s system for reporting bullying.
In response, Wu said schools that fail to follow due procedure when school violence would be fined up to NT$30,000 (US$1,030).