Unions criticize new field trip scheme

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Sep 07, 2018 - Page 3

Several education and parents groups yesterday criticized the government’s plan to boost tourism by requiring schools to conduct more field trips, saying that it would cause unnecessary stress for teachers and poorer families.

The Tourism Bureau last month said it was planning to help revitalize domestic tourism by increasing the frequency of school field trips from once a year to once a semester and extending them from one to two days.

The policy is reportedly to take effect in February next year, and would include more than 3,000 elementary, junior and senior-high schools.

Representatives from the New Taipei City Education Union, the Taipei School Education Union and several parents held a news conference in Taipei yesterday to urge the Ministry of Education to reconsider the policy, which they said prioritizes tourism over children’s educational needs.

“The purpose of field trips should be to offer children a learning experience outside of school, but the government is apparently trying to turn the trips into a tool for saving domestic tourism,” New Taipei City Education Union secretary-general Lee Man-li (李曼麗) said.

More frequent and longer trips would not only increase the financial strain on parents, but add to teachers’ workloads, she said.

“Graduation trips are the only overnight trips for students at present... Has the government considered that students are still children, especially those in first to fourth grade? They still very much need their parents’ care and parents are bound to be worried if their children spend the night away from home,” she said.

Field trips take a long time to organize and require considerable personnel to ensure the safety and the quality of the trip, she said.

“How can a teacher make sure all 30 students in her class are fine on trips that are longer than a day? If something happens, who is going to be responsible,” she said.

Two two-day trips every year would be difficult for some families to afford, said Chen Bi-yao (陳碧瑤), a parent.

“The policy would mean an additional cost of at least NT$6,000 per year, and double that if you have two children,” she said.

K-12 Education Administration Deputy Director-General Hsu Li-chuan (許麗娟) later said that the new policy would support the new curriculums set to be implemented in the next academic year.

The new policy would require schools to have a field trip every semester, but two-day trips would only be recommended, not required, she said.

Additional reporting by Rachel Lin