With its passage of an amendment to the Educational Fundamental Act prohibiting all forms of corporal punishment, the Legislature continued Taiwan's progress toward being an advanced, nurturing society.
Young people represent the nation's future. In addition to being offered the right to a good education, it is important that they are protected physically and mentally, so that they may develop healthily. This is the joint responsibility of students' parents, their school authorities and the government.
Taiwan has come a long way in promoting education and, since the early 1950s, has allocated at least 15 percent of its annual budget for developing education as mandated by the Constitution.
This strong and continued investment in education also reflects Taiwan's lack of natural resources. If the nation is to progress, it must maximize development of its human resources. With this in mind, a nine-year free and compulsory education system was implemented in 1968, and this will be extended to 12 years in the near future. This policy has proved to be a wise, long-term and productive investment in the island's development.
Unfortunately, the use of corporal punishment to discipline Taiwan's students has been difficult to stamp out, despite the efforts of parents and civil organizations. A small number of teachers have clung to its use under the mistaken belief that such punishment necessary to maintain order in class or even to ensure good academic performance. In a few instances, excessive corporal punishment has led to serious physical or mental injury and to parents demanding compensation in accordance with provisions stipulated under the recently promulgated State Compensation Act.
This problem is not limited to Taiwan, of course. Indeed, Taiwan's actions to prohibit corporal punishment, including previous attempts and this latest legislation, are in line with world trends. To date, most countries around the world have enacted laws prohibiting corporal punishment in schools.
Protection of human rights has gone hand-in-hand with Taiwan's democratic reforms since the lifting of martial law almost 20 years ago. Indeed, holding aloft the banner of human rights has been a central policy of the current administration since the historic transfer of power in 2000.
This legislative amendment can be seen as marking another milestone in the enhancement of Taiwan citizens' human rights. It is now necessary to set up detailed codes of conduct and provide on-the-job training to help teachers understand that it really is time for such out-of-date practices to disappear.
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