Schools’ discipline contested: group

By Rachel Lin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Mon, Nov 25, 2013 - Page 3

A recent poll indicates that corporal punishment is still being used in schools nationwide, despite being banned by the Ministry of Education, according to the Humanistic Education Foundation.

The poll also discovered that teachers have been forbidding recess to students as another disciplinary method, the foundation said.

According to the foundation’s poll, more than 90 percent of the elementary schools across the five special municipalities have dealt out some form of corporal punishment, ranging from using rulers to strike palms to teachers demanding that children leapfrog jump or squat.

Taipei has the highest ratio of physical disciplinary methods employed in elementary schools.

Greater Tainan has the highest incidence of junior-high school discipline, while New Taipei City (新北市) had the highest levels of verbal violence in both junior-high schools and elementary schools, the foundation said.

The poll showed over 78.7 percent of teachers in Greater Tainan prevented school children from going on recess, 67.4 percent in Greater Taichung, 65 percent in Greater Kaohsiung, 61 percent in Taipei City and 55.6 percent in New Taipei City.

Between 30 and 40 percent of junior-high school students have also experienced being grounded from recess in the five special municipalities, while some elementary-school children have been restricted from going on recess for an entire month.

Some have been restricted from talking with other students or going to the restroom, the foundation said.

Recess must be taken

The foundation asked bureau of education heads across all municipalities to make clear in writing that teachers could not prevent students from taking recess or single them out by putting them in a special seat.

With the 12-year national education program being implemented next year, the foundation also listed examinations as part of its questionnaire.

The questionnaire found that over 36.8 percent of junior-high school pupils in New Taipei City — the municipality with the highest ratio in this regard — were required to take a morning exam during the period that had been allotted for self-study.

The foundation said that more than 88 percent of schools abuse security checks and were making large-scale searches of students’ persons and property, despite an amendment to the Education Basic Act (教育基本法) banning physical punishment (“Observations on the law governing educators’ teaching and punishing of students as defined and implemented by schools”: 學校訂定與實施教師輔導與管教學生辦法注意事項), which staes that there must be a particular reason if schools want to search students’ bags.

In response, education bureau heads in each municipality cast doubt over the results of the questionnaire.

Greater Kaohsiung Bureau of Education Secretary-General Tai Shu-fen (戴淑芬) said the bureau needed to examine the methodology behind the foundation’s statistics and under what circumstances the poll was conducted before commenting.

New Taipei City Bureau of Education Secretary-General Lin Teng-chiao (林騰蛟) said that while teachers delaying lesson finish times was acceptable, forbidding students from visiting the restroom was an abuse of disciplinary powers. Lin added that he was shocked at the poll’s results.

Not physical discipline

However, another bureau official, Ou Jen-hao (歐人豪), said that more than 90 percent of students reported in the bureau’s own polls said that they had not been punished by physical means.

Greater Tainan Bureau of Education Secretary-General Cheng Pang-chen (鄭邦鎮) also said the way the poll was conducted — exit-poll-style questioning by randomly interviewing students at the school gates — would indicate that its results were questionable.