Wed, Feb 26, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Foreign spouses could be sent to language classes

CNA , TAIPEI

Celebral-palsy sufferer Huang Nai-hui, right, a Taiwanese husband married to a foreign wife, and Suphansa Lin from Thailand, who is married to a Taiwanese husband, attend an educational seminar organized by the Ministry of Education yesterday. The seminar was aimed at providing education for foreign brides.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is considering demanding that all foreign brides receive Chinese-language training courses as soon as they arrive in Taiwan, Vice Minister of Education Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠) said yesterday.

"We are considering requiring all foreign brides to study Chinese once they set foot on the island, " Fan said at a seminar on adult education for foreign brides organized by the Taipei county government.

Fan said the ministry has also decided to ease restrictions on foreign brides intending to receive higher education in Taiwan. In the future, she said, foreign brides who have obtained permanent residency or Taiwan passports can apply to enter local educational institutions.

Due to the changing social situation, Fan went on, the number of foreign women marrying Taiwan men has increased substantially in recent years.

"We should not discriminate against foreign brides and should treat them with respect and concern," Fan said, adding that educational and welfare service agencies should integrate their resources to help foreign brides get accustomed to Taiwan's social norms, customs, culture and way of life.

As foreign brides play an essential role in child-rearing and education, Fan said, the MOE will cooperate closely with local governments and educational institutes in offering practical educational programs and training workshops for foreign brides.

Speaking on the same occasion, Lin Kuei-chih, academic affairs director of Wanli Elementary School in Taipei County, said that the school began to operate a special education class for foreign brides three years ago.

"At the beginning, the teachers had a hard time communicating with the foreign brides. After three years of effort, however, many of them can speak and read Chinese and can use phonetic symbols and dictionaries," Lin said.

According to government tallies, the number of foreign spouses had reached 91,300 as of the end of last year. Among them, 85,194 were women, while the remainder were men.

If the number of foreign brides increases at an estimated annual rate of 17,000, the number of foreign brides will reach 150,000 in four years, equivalent to the minimum population required to form a city under the jurisdiction of a county government.

In 1998, foreign spouses accounted for 7.13 percent of the people who registered their marriages during the year, a ratio that rose to 11.38 percent in 2001 and surged further to 11.65 percent last year.

A total of 17,339 foreign women married Taiwan men last year, while 2,768 foreign bridegrooms tied the knot with Taiwan women.

In terms of nationality, Vietnamese women formed the largest group of foreign brides in Taiwan, totaling 42,713 at the end of last year; followed by Indonesians at 10,662. Other countries who have at least 1,000 women married to Taiwanese men were Thailand, the Phili-ppines, Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia and the US.

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