Wed, Nov 20, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Schools infringe upon students’ rights: foundation

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

School regulations have become tools to infringe upon students’ human rights and an obstruction to educating students about democracy and the rule of law, the Humanistic Education Foundation said yesterday.

Junior and senior-high pupils at certain schools are being punished, according to several students present at the press conference, with demerits for being in a relationship and are encouraged — with awards — to tell on other students who engage in such relationships.

Other regulations include cautions against buying snacks from peddlers, wearing non-uniform jackets when the temperature is above 12?C or eating while walking.

As an example of how schools infringe upon students’ rights, the foundation cited an incident that occurred at St Francis Xavier High School in Taoyuan County earlier this year in which a group of students held a speech and discussion event about media monopolization approved by the school that was interrupted and dispersed by a school director.

The students later published a campus journal criticizing what they called the school’s arbitrary action. The journal was recalled by the school, prompting students to stage an in-school protest holding banners reading: “Democracy is dead; authoritarian rule lives on” and demanding an end to what they called the enforcement of martial law at the school.

Chou Hsiang-yu (周香羽), a former St Francis Xavier pupil and former chief editor of the campus journal, said some of her schoolmates were then held in a small room and interrogated by school officials, who called them “spies” and threatened them with expulsion for “inciting student movements.”

“A few months after the incident, a rule was added to the existing school regulations, stipulating that those who ‘manufacture or disseminate documents or publications that are untrue or not approved by the school, or undertake other inappropriate deeds that cause a stir on the campus … are to receive consultation to be transferred’” to other schools, Chou said.

After the school’s contravention of students’ rights to freedom of speech incited a public outcry, the Ministry of Education said it would correct the situation and abolish school regulations that are in violation of the nation’s law and Constitution, the foundation said.

Foundation executive director Joanna Feng (馮喬蘭) added that the ministry also promised at a public hearing on Oct. 1 to overhaul the existing school regulations within a month.

“More than a month passed, but St Francis Xavier High School’s illegal regulation still exists. Our inquiries about the rules have also been parried,” Feng said.

Feng accused the ministry of not fulfilling its promise, and added that to educate youngsters, educators should develop their teaching skills, rather than rely on school regulations that center on reprimanding students.

Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare secretary-general Yeh Ta-hua (葉大華) said that many school regulations and actions such as installing closed-circuit TV cameras in classrooms are blatantly in violation of the domestic Protection of Children and Youths Welfare and Rights Act (兒童及少年福利與權益保障法) and international human rights covenants.

Yeh also called on the government to invite groups and student representatives to participate in the drawing up of a standard for middle schools’ regulations.

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