Fri, Jul 25, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Row erupts over student quotas

THE CULPRITS The country's military academies stand accused of discriminating against women students by practising an allegedly unfair intake quota system

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Women's groups yesterday act out a skit outside the Ministry of National Defense to call for military academies to increase their enrollment quotas for female students.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Women's groups yesterday called on military academies to increase their enrollment quotas for women, amid media reports about a female senior-high school graduate who gave up the opportunity to study at the nation's top university in exchange for joining a military college.

The Awakening Foundation (婦女新知) led a protest at the Ministry of National Defense yesterday, saying discrepancies between male and female enrollment quotas at military academies violate the Gender Equality Labor Law (兩性工作平等法).

The protests highlighted an incident in which high school graduate Chang Ying-hua (張穎華), who achieved top scores in the joint college-entrance examination this year and was admitted to National Taiwan University, chose to study at the law department of the National Defense Management College instead.

However, Chang's admission to the defense college came at the expense of Lei Chia-chia (雷家佳), who gave up her opportunity to study there in favor of Chang. Chang wanted to attend the military school out of financial concerns.

Chairwoman of the foundation Hsieh Yuan (謝園) said military colleges this year recruited a total of 865 male students, and 54 females.

Taking the NDMC as an example, Hsieh said that the school's department of law accepted two women this year, while the rest of the departments, including the popular business administration, information management and accounting courses, had zero openings for females.

The military's two-year junior-college programs saw an even greater imbalance between the enrollment opportunities for male and female students, with the programs' total of 680 openings reserved for men.

"On average, the percentage of male and female students recruited by the military academies stand at 96.2 versus 3.38," Hsieh said.

The group yesterday called for the military to increase the number of enrollment openings for women, starting this year.

Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), a lawyer and chairwoman of the National Union of Taiwan's Women Associations, yesterday said since all students enrolled in military schools are fully financed by the government and therefore required to fulfill a work bond after graduation, the imbalance in recruiting violate the Gender Equality Labor Law.

"The military schools' recruitment is an early extension of the students' future employment opportunities. If female students are restricted from entering military schools, the military is in violation of the Gender Equality Labor Law," Yu said.

In response, director of the ministry's General Planning Department Chu Hua-tsang (朱華倉) yesterday accepted their appeals on behalf of the ministry, saying it would have to reevaluate its recruitment policy.

KMT legislators yesterday also urged the ministry to create another opening for Lei Chia-chia in the military college's law department.

"If the ministry is in violation of the gender equality act, which is guaranteed by the Constitution, it should be corrected by all means. In addition, as the NDMC is not a combat unit, there shouldn't have been any limits imposed on recruiting women," KMT Legislator Sun Kuo-hwa (孫國華) said.

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