Judges give lessons in basic law at Shanghai schools

Updated: Jul 13, 2021 China Daily Print
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Middle school students at Yew Chung International School in Shanghai receive a law class from a local court judge on June 22.[Photo provided to China Daily]

About 50 middle school students from an international school in Shanghai received a legal class about civil and criminal laws in China conducted by local court judges on June 22.

This is the first time in the city that judges have entered an international educational institution to conduct a legal class in English, according to the Shanghai High People's Court.

During the hourlong class, Xu Li, a judge who specializes in family disputes at Changning District People's Court, talked about basic legal frameworks and knowledge of the law that may be relevant to the daily lives of the 10th-grade students at Yew Chung International School in Shanghai.

Huang Xiangqing, vice-president of the Shanghai High People's Court, says the court and the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission joined hands to initiate this program in April. To date, such classes have been held in more than 100 schools-from primary schools to senior middle schools.

"We hope to convey the ideas of respecting, obeying and safeguarding the laws and regulations to the younger generation," says Huang.

"The idea of communicating domestic laws to foreign students is to help them better understand the differences between the Chinese and foreign legal systems and practices," he adds.

During the class, Xu talked about the various forms of criminal punishment. She also introduced the Civil Code that took effect at the beginning of this year. She shared how "good Samaritan "behavior is protected by the law and that smartphone apps must not infringe upon citizen's image rights.

"Equality and fairness are among the fundamental philosophies of the law. But equality in law doesn't mean equality in the way different people are treated-more an equality of opportunity. The law usually leans toward vulnerable groups more to ensure that equal opportunities are available to people from different backgrounds," she says.

Xu also prepared a case study, in which one student was physically injured by another when playing sports, and encouraged the students to discuss in groups and present their viewpoints on whether the person who caused the injury should bear civil or criminal liability.

"It was a discussion with open answers. The process of comprehending the rule of law and thinking about it is more important than a result for the students," she says.

Ryan Peet, co-principal of YCIS Shanghai Puxi, says such events will help the students become better engaged in society.

"It may also serve as a career inspiration for some of them. It's a great experience and provides an exposure for the students," he says.

A 15-year-old student who calls herself Victoria, a citizen of both Italy and France, says: "The class made me become interested in learning more about legal topics and opened up the possibility of a legal career one day."

Another student who identified herself as Azalea, whose parents are from Canada and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, says the session was very educational and informative.

"I enjoyed the case study part in particular, as it immersed us into the argument about whether something is morally right or wrong. It turns out that there is not always a right answer," says the 15-year-old.

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