Face Forward: Almost all of Amsterdam's high schools have decided to ban face-covering veils worn by Muslim females following a dispute that erupted at a trade school during the 2001-02 school year. According to the Agence France-Presse, school administrators butted heads with four 16- to 18-year-old students, arguing that the chador and niqaab veils they were wearing limited classroom interaction and obscured valuable nonverbal communication. Local Muslim schools support the decision, which will affect about 33,000 students. "At our school, we want to see each other," principal Erik Bijkerk of the Islamic College of Amsterdam told the news service.
Hands-On Learning: Primary school teachers may soon be able to cuddle their students again, now that officials are reconsidering a policy that discourages physical contact with kids, the New Zealand Herald reports. A recent study found that the no-touch policy, developed a decade ago in response to a widely publicized sexual abuse case involving a child-care worker, may have left children hurt and confused and increased teachers' anxiety about being accused of molesting their students. "In many instances, female teachers had to be called away from their own groups to assist male colleagues afraid to touch or be alone with a child," says researcher Alison Jones, a University of Auckland professor.
Book Worms: The Chinese government is seizing textbooks from primary and secondary schools in a national crackdown on pirated educational materials. According to the China Daily, during the past year officials have collected nearly 14 million classroom and reference books, many containing misprinted characters and incorrect information. "Eliminating pirated and pornographic publications is essential because they affect our offsprings' health mentally," Liu Yunshan, an official who oversees efforts to halt illegal publishing, told the newspaper. Schools had been buying the counterfeits to save money, but the World Trade Organization, which China joined in 2001, requires the government to protect intellectual property rights.
Sole Searching: In an effort to get exams off on the right foot, many Indian school districts are asking students to leave their shoes at the classroom door. The idea is to curb copying by preventing students from smuggling "cheat sheets" in their sneakers, the Times of India reports. But critics doubt the policy will work, noting that test- takers have also been known to hide answer sheets inside their belts, sleeves, and underwear. "You can ask the kids to remove their shoes outside. You can't ask them to remove their clothes outside," one senior education official observes. The critics are calling for the implementation of more comprehensive anti-cheating measures, such as having independent proctors monitor students.
Vol. 14, Issue 7, Page 13Published in Print: May 1, 2003, as Dispatches