College suicides spur call for teachers to counsel students

TAIWAN - Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling yesterday said teachers should play a more active counselling role after several suicides by university students this week.

In Taiwan, all levels of education have specific teachers appointed as their advisers. Such advisers are usually more important in guiding elementary and high school students, but their role is almost nominal in higher education.

But Chiang said his ministry hopes to strengthen the interactions between class advisers and their students.

School counsellors may offer professional advice to students, but class advisers who have closer relationships with students can play a more active counselling role.

If class advisers can talk more to students and understand the difficulties they have in schoolwork and life, they may be able to prevent devastating actions, the minister said.

He said when he returned from abroad to teach in Taiwan, he spent time talking to students every week.

Chiang was head of National Central University before becoming education minister earlier this year.