Elementary schools in rural parts of Taoyuan are teaching children valuable life lessons by raising goats on campus.
Chung-Shing Elementary School in Dasi District (大溪) in 2012 received three goats from alumni Chen Chin-shun (陳金順) and Chiu Chuang (邱創) as a donation.
Since then, every day, under the supervision of their teachers, second and third-graders take turns letting the goats out to graze, school principal Chen Wei-an (陳濰安) said on Saturday.
Photo: Chen Yun, Taipei Times
The six goats at the school are like “living lawnmowers,” and goat manure is the best fertilizer for the school’s plants, Chen Wei-an said.
The school lets the children participate in every aspect of the goats’ life, school director of general affairs Wu Mei-feng (吳美鳳) said.
When one of the goats give birth, the students cheer them on and name the kid, Wu said, adding that when the goats die they are buried on campus.
A memorial service was once held for a goat that had passed away.
The students wrote cards for the goat and looked back on the goat’s life through video clips, Wu said.
“Through the experience, the school hoped to teach the students to cherish the people and things around them, and to be grateful for the joy that the goat brought them in the short time they spent together,” she said.
The students avoid the goats’ feeding area when they play games during breaks, gather grass for the goats to eat and clean their pen, Wu said.
By having goats on campus, the students have learned to appreciate life and have more tolerance, she said, adding that a family tree of goats made of wooden plaques hangs on the fence of a barn at the school.
“Every time the goats are let out, we race to talk to them,” a student said.
In the past six years, the goats have given birth to many kids and some have since been gifted to Dapo Elementary School in Sinwu District (新屋) and Fugang Elementary School in Yangmei District (楊梅).
Three years ago, faculty from Dapo Elementary School visited Chung-Shing Elementary School to receive two goats called “Chocolate” and “Milk Tea,” and promised to take good care of them.
Many students cried during the ceremony, then-Chung-Shing principal Kuo Chiu-yue (郭秋月) said.
Dapo Elementary School used to have a goat whose hind legs were paralyzed due to encephalitis, school principal Hsu Ta-chuan (徐大川) said.
The students always kept the goat company and picked leaves for it to eat, he said.
When the goat passed away, the school taught the students how to face up to death, he added.
The school also teaches students how to identify different plants and animals while picking leaves for the goats to eat, school academic affairs director Lin Yu-hsien (林玉賢) said.
The goats, which are kept in the schoolyard, are like the students’ classmates, Lin added.
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