Why is it generally accepted that Taiwanese students can be compelled by school or university authorities to perform menial tasks such as cleaning classrooms, libraries and stairwells?
Students do not perform these tasks voluntarily, or receive payment for having performed them. Rather, they are compelled to perform them on threat of punishment by school authorities.
Why are these tasks not performed by paid staff, such as migrant workers from South East Asia?
Against the claim that having students clean their school promotes a sense of responsibility, it should be flatly stated that this can only be true if the tasks are undertaken voluntarily - for it is a travesty to ascribe the adjective of "responsible", with its positive civic connotations, to a student forced into sweeping a stairwell: in such cases the student has only responded to her wish to avoid punishment, rather than to the school's need for clean stairwells. The only accurate adjective for such students is "obedient".
And the only accurate adjective for this practice is "slavery". It may be relatively petty in scope, but it is slavery nonetheless.
Rather than questioning "authority", democratically dressed or otherwise, perhaps it is time Taiwanese question their own obedience.
(Sent: Monday 4th February 2013. Unpublished)