Student’s rights

Do they have any?

In a poorly-editted article at the Donga Ilbo, and a shorter article at Korea Beat, the subject is discussed.

From the Donga:

In response, the conservative Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations released a commentary Tuesday saying, “Legislating laws on students’ human rights encourages conflict between teachers and students.”

“Rules on students’ human rights do not respect a school and see things only from the perspective of universal human rights,” the commentary said. “Too much emphasis on an individual student’s human rights could infringe on other students’ right to learn and teachers’ right to teach.”

I am not sure if ‘right to teach’ is the best possible phrase.  Maybe, “need to teach”, or “duty to teach”.

They give some examples of problems with the so-called student’s rights:

Teachers say introducing rules at a time when students lack a good understanding of human rights could bring chaos in class. A high school teacher in Seoul said, “A student says he’s hungry in class and wants to get something to eat. I say that because you’re in class now, go there on a break,” adding, “Then the student cries violation of his human rights.”

A high school student said, “A student was studying another subject in class. I told him to stop but he didn’t budge and call it a human rights violation.

One of the many things I have learned from my sister is a good attitude to approach this problem.  At or near the beginning of a class, she would remind students they were here to learn from her and she was here to teach them.  Actions that prevented these goals or reduced their effectiveness were clearly wrong.  Eating in a class that is not scheduled for eating (hey, I bring snacks in to class once in a while) is wrong.  Studying for another subject, though.  That’s a tougher one but still wrong.  In a similar situation, I taught university students for several hours each morning and many of the students arrived late.  When I asked why, I was told they had been studying English until too late the previous night.  Studying the material in class is (or should be) the best way to learn.

I would like to say, if you don’t want to study my material, don’t come to class.  This doesn’t work because my students are marked for attendance.

Back to the article:

The criticism did not stop youth groups and the progressive teachers’ union from claiming that the human rights of youths must be protected. The union’s Seoul chapter said in a commentary celebrating the election of Kwak Roh-hyun as the city superintendant of schools, “We hope that students fight for guaranteeing of basic rights, securing political freedom, and creating an entity for education.

A member of the youth group Asunaro said on an Internet forum, “Education is rather very political,” adding, “We cannot agree that youths are immature, however. Being mature is not a matter of how old you are but a matter of what kind of experience and thoughts you have.”

GI Korea knows what this is code for. “Being mature is not a matter of how old you are but a matter of what kind of experience and thought you have – especially if your thoughts match our political agenda”  Oh, this is my quote, but I think the GI would think it acceptable.

Koreabeat has translated an article from the Kyunhyang Shinmun which explores student rights from the perspective of parents and students.  Their opinion: students need more protections and rights:

Sexual misconduct and bribery remain common as well. One couple said, “our daughter’s headroom teacher secretly molested her… we demanded that the teacher be punished but to get out of it the school said students love that teacher so her story was hard to believe.” Another couple were upset that a teacher, apparently seeking a bribe, called them on the telephone making veiled threats such as “your daughter is very strange.”

Mr. Park, head of the organization, said, “protections for students’ rights at school must be strengthened.”

I have to chuckle at the end of the first paragraph.  “Your daughter is very strange” must be a threat, right?  There’s no way the daughter really is strange, after all.


UPDATED: teens also need to learn about their rights as employees.

Interest in part-time jobs is soaring among teens, according to a report commissioned by the ministry. The survey of 3,202 teenagers aged 15 through 18 showed that 90.8 percent showed interest in taking a part-time job if the right opportunity came along.

But teens on the job hunt would be wise to know their rights before taking up employment, the ministry said.

“The report identified that in many workplaces, labor standards were not observed, including minimum wage and respecting working hours for teens,” a ministry spokesperson said.


One Response to “Student’s rights”

  1. Students: Do They Have Human Rights? : Says:

    […] the way, hat tip to Surprises Aplenty!, who got me going on this subject and from whose post on the issue my first link was […]

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