Fri, Jul 12, 2002 - Page 4 News List

MOE prepares travelers

By Chang Yu-jung  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of Education yesterday encouraged prospective overseas students to pay attention to their safety after it released figures showing that 45 students and teachers have been killed overseas since 1998 and another 65 have been injured.

"Since the summer vacation has started, it's time for those who want to study overseas to become familiar with the rules and regulations of the countries they will be visiting in order to protect themselves," Li Chen-ching (李振清), director-general of the ministry's Bureau of International Culture and Educational Relations (BICER), said yesterday at a press conference.

Traffic accidents constituted the single most frequent cause of death or injury, resulting in 68 casualties.

"Traffic accidents have always been the top killer of those studying abroad," said Li.

"The causes of those road accidents were speeding, driving when tired or driving without a seat belt," Lee said.

Ouyang Yen-Heng (歐陽彥恆), a BICER official, said that a lack of understanding of local regulations and the over-estimation of personal ability on the part of teachers and students were major contributors to the accidents.

Teachers in Taiwan often lead groups of students on brief study-tours overseas.

"Students should really evaluate their own ability and health when joining activities in a foreign country," Ouyang said.

According to BICER, drowning is the second highest cause of accidents for students studying overseas.

Ouyang also told the Taipei Times that BICER has been working on promoting overseas students' safety since 1998.

"After seeing so many students die in accidents overseas, we [BICER] send letters to schools and to local government offices every year before the semesters end to ask the schools to educate their students on the importance of protecting themselves during their journey abroad," said Ouyang.

BICER holds orientations for prospective students to prepare them for their overseas experience.

It also offers background information on different nations and provides tips on how to seek help in the event of emergency on their Web site: http://www.edu.tw:81/bicer/ca7.htm.

"If the students are willing to go through all the information we provide on the Internet, many tragedies could be avoided," said Ouyang.

Last year, 30,402 Taiwanese students applied for student visas to study abroad.

BICER estimates that almost 20,000 students traveled on tourist visas to undertake short-term study tours.

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