Students from immigrant families

By Yu Ying-fu 尤英夫  / 

Wed, Aug 21, 2019 - Page 8

There have been media reports that 84 percent of the 1,606 students admitted to National Taiwan University (NTU) this year through the University Admissions Committee’s allocation process based on the scores in the Advanced Subjects Test come from the six special municipalities.

This high percentage underlines the fact that students in metropolitan areas with better access to educational resources and whose parents have higher socioeconomic standings have an advantage when enrolling at the school.

From the perspective of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, Taipei — one of the earliest social welfare groups with 51 years of history helping minorities, immigrants and their children — there are several issues that demand the public’s attention.

Over the decades, only two students from immigrant families in our care have been admitted to the university. This year, one student was admitted thanks to their athletic skills. The monthly income of immigrant families is generally less than NT$20,000, and the economic burden on these families normally falls on women.

When they hardly have the time to earn enough money, how could they find the spare time to pay attention to their children’s homework?

Some children from immigrant families have to start working upon graduation to help their mothers earn income.

In the families we help, about 20 percent of the children will start working after graduating from senior-high or vocational high schools this year.

These children have chosen to work not because of their low aptitude for learning, but due to the unfairness of the educational environment.

According to a survey conducted by Chen Hsueh-chih (陳學志), a professor in National Taiwan Normal University’s College of Education, children from immigrant families achieve better scores than other students in several indicators, including creativity, adventurousness, curiosity, imagination and competence when facing challenges.

Study companions greatly help children from immigrant families learn. If more people or organizations were willing to work as study companion volunteers, more students would probably be admitted to NTU.

Elementary schools in Taipei have applied for interpreters dispatched by the foundation through the city government for overseas Taiwanese children who return to Taiwan after reaching school age, but there is still room for further improvement.

Yu Ying-fu is chairman of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, Taipei.

Translated by Chang Ho-ming