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Published in Print: January 1, 2004, as Dispatches


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Striking Legislation: Malaysian educators need spare the rod no longer. The government of this Southeast Asian nation approved caning as a form of school discipline in October, the Malaysia General News reports. Under the new regulations, principals may grant specific teachers the right to cane undisciplined students. The teachers must comply with certain conditions, such as not meting out punishment in public, because, as education minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad explains, "Teaching through shaming someone, to me, is not the right thing to do."


Manpower Problem: A group of German education officials are looking for a few good men. In some areas of the country, about 80 percent of primary school teachers are females, and Lower Saxony education minister Bernd Busemann attributes boys' poor performance on recent international assessment tests to this "feminization" of education, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports. Busemann and colleagues are calling for quotas that would force primary schools to employ teaching staff that are 30 percent to 50 percent male, providing boys with more role models and motivation. Not everyone agrees with Busemann's reasoning. "I find it outrageous to shove the blame on female teachers," says Brigitte Pothmer, Lower Saxony's Green Party leader. She and others say reading material and educational quality, not teacher gender, explain male students' lower marks.


Shrine Time: A leading figure in the Cyprus Orthodox Church wants to place confessionals in state schools, reports the Greek Cypriot daily Phileleftheros. According to his proposal, Bishop Athanassios and the Limassol Diocese would pay to provide small chapels or shrines for children to privately worship, confess their sins, and be forgiven during school hours. Teachers' unions oppose the idea, arguing that state schools educate children of many faiths and that providing benefits for one group will breed intolerance while violating the constitutional separation of church and state.


Corporate Perk: Administrators at a secondary school in Auckland have come up with a sporting way to thank their hardworking teachers. Rangitoto College pays more than $6,000 a year to rent its own corporate box at North Harbour Stadium, the city's professional rugby venue. The private lounge, with bar, television, and waiters to serve dinner and drinks, is used as a reward for teachers who devote their free time to helping with school activities and coaching sports teams, the New Zealand Herald reports. "Teachers get knocked around a lot these days," principal Allan Peachey explains."I thought it would be nice for them to experience what others in the corporate world experience."

—Aviva Werner

Vol. 15, Issue 4, Page 17

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