Legislature passes bill to expand students' role in school meetings

05/11/2021 04:50 PM
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The Legislature. CNA file photo
The Legislature. CNA file photo

Taipei, May 11 (CNA) The Legislative Yuan on Tuesday passed legal amendments mandating that senior high school students make up at least eight percent of the participants at school management meetings, while also expanding a system through which students can appeal policies which they believe harm their interests.

The first of the measures, which will take effect on Oct. 1, was proposed by members of the Taiwan People's Party and ruling Democratic Progressive Party with the aim of giving students a greater role in influencing decisions that affect their future.

Although Taiwan's Senior High School Education Act already requires that student representatives take part in school management meetings, it does not set a minimum number or proportion of student participants.

In practice, supporters of the measure argued, this has led to school meetings attended by up to 100 administrators, teachers, and parents, but only 1-3 students, making it difficult for them to have their voices heard.

Under the changes, student representatives will have to make up at least eight percent of participants at the meetings, while at least one-third of the total participants will have to be female.

Meanwhile, the Legislature also passed amendments to set nationwide standards for the review committees that high schools use to handle students' appeals against campus policies and discipline.

Under the changes, which will take effect in one year, the review committees will have to include at least one expert each in the fields of law, education, child rights and psychology.

The government, meanwhile, will be required to set up its own review committees, which will act as the final arbiter in cases where students oppose the rulings issued by the committees at their schools.

The government committees must include a majority of members with expertise in the aforementioned fields, and must begin processing appeals within 10 days of receiving an appeal, according to the revisions.

DPP Legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅), who helped draft the amendments, said the changes to the appeals process were necessary to stop schools from enforcing "outdated" rules that infringe on students' rights.

For example, he said, many schools in Taiwan still strictly regulate their students' dress and appearance, prohibit dating, carry out random bag checks and force pupils to study in designated free periods.

The changes also follow the "spirit" of the Constitutional Court's Interpretation No. 784, which affirmed students' right to file legal or administrative appeals against school decisions that affect their rights and interests, he said.

(By Lin Yu-hsuan and Matthew Mazzetta)

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