The minister of education yesterday agreed to establish a "special education area" in Kinmen and Matsu to enable children of Tai-wanese businessmen based in the Chinese port city of Xiamen to attend school on Taiwan's islands.
It will also enable the businessmen themselves to study part-time in Kinmen for Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) degrees.
Minister Huang Jung-tsun (黃榮村) announced the move during an inspection tour of Kinmen. The Kinmen County Government has for the past year been pushing the central government to authorize a scheme aimed at attracting the children of China-based businessmen.
Kinmen County Commissioner Lee Chu-feng (
Commissioner Lee briefed Huang and reporters yesterday on the county government's plan, which includes the granting of scholarships and reduced tuition fees.
According to Lee, between 50,000 and 60,000 children of Taiwanese businessmen live in Xiamen and study in Chinese schools. Kinmen and Xiamen are just over 2km apart at their closest points.
Kinmen has faced a dramatic population decline since the early 1970s. In 1971, a total of 1,950 children were born on the island. Young people have tended to leave the island for higher education in Taiwan proper, where most of them remain to establish their careers, Lee said.
"Only around 500 infants are born in Kinmen each year now."
Kinmen has 19 elementary, seven junior-high and two senior-high schools, but the population decline has released educational resources in Kinmen. "We still have space for an additional 5,000 to 7,000 students each year" Lee said.
Lee said that the county government hoped to receive its first intake of Xiamen-based Taiwanese children this coming September, but Huang said that the timing would have to be discussed with other government agencies.
The plan envisages that the children will originally be housed in dormitories which the county government plans to build, joining their parents in Xiamen only during holidays.
The head of the Xiamen Tai-wanese Businessmen's Association, Huang Tieh-jung (
But, Huang added, the scheme should be accompanied by the establishment of regular, scheduled crossings between Xiamen and Kinmen, to allow parents and students to travel between the two sides. With the Chinese government continuing to refuse a resumption of dialogue with Tai-wan, however, there is little prospect of such services being established in the near future.
Minister Huang also gave his support yesterday to the Kinmen County Government's plans to cooperate with Xiamen University to launch an EMBA curriculum that would enable Taiwanese businessmen who live in Fujian province (