Four schools on the offshore islands of Kinmen announced yesterday at the Ministry of Education offices that they are continuing a recruitment drive that began last year for the children of Taiwanese businesspeople working in China for the coming semester in September.
"In order to attend to the educational needs of the children whose parents have invested in China's southeastern Fujian Province, the education ministry has last year initiated this special program," Administrative Vice Minister Lu Mu-lin (
"We cooperate with four schools in Kinmen that accept children of Taiwanese businesspeople based in China so that they can receive a Taiwanese education," Lu said.
Lu said that last year's promotion was so hasty that only 15 students enrolled in these four schools.
The principals of the four schools -- Kinhu Elementary, Kincheng Junior High, Kinmen Senior High and National Kinmen Senior Vocational -- all attended the press conference to try to attract new students.
"We hope this year more Taiwanese kids can go to Kinmen schools, which provide a good environment and good teachers," Lu said.
"Although Dongguan School for Taiwan Businesspeople's Children and Huadong Taiwanese Children School were set up in China within the last two years, Xiamen currently has no equivalent," Liu Meng-yang (劉孟陽), executive secretary of the Ministry of Education's Mainland Affairs Division, said.
"The Chinese educational system approves of this `academic diplomacy,'" Liu said.
The promotion, which should have started in April, was postponed as a result of the SARS outbreak, Liu said.
"Since the `three small links' resumed on July 16, our advertisements were reinstated, Lu added.
Liu said that about 500,000 Taiwanese businesspeople work in China and from early on, many parents and their children spent time away from each other. These children often have had no choice but go to schools in China. Some parents complained that the textbooks compiled by the Chinese government inculcated the communist ideology and contained an antagonistic attitude toward Taiwan.
According to a survey by the Straits Exchange Foundation last May, the parents of about 200 Taiwanese children in Xiamen expressed interest in sending their children to Kinmen's schools, therefore the education ministry began to prepare an equal number of dormitory accommodations for prospective new students.
"The dormitory containing 200 beds is brand-new and equipped with nice facilities. Most important, the fee is reasonable," Liu said. She indicated that the boarding costs NT$2000 per semester and the lunch is free for all the elementary school and junior high students. The boarding costs NT$1600 and the tuition fee is about NT$8000 for senior-high and vocational students.
"[Tuition] is much lower than the international schools in Shanghai and Beijing," Liu said.
Alternative service soldiers will be assigned to serve as the counselor for the children, Liu said.
Liu added that the transportation between Kinmen and Xiamen is convenient.
"There are 24 trips a week. You can take boats on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. It only takes 40 minutes, which is really convenient," Liu said.
The principal of Kinhu Elementary School emphasized that the school's environment is beautiful and that academic pressures are lower than those in China.