Fri, Oct 10, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Aboriginal children get scholarships

BY DEBBY WU  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Taiwan Aboriginal Foundation yesterday pointed out at a scholarship award ceremony that many Aboriginal children are living under poor economic circumstances and are unable to pay for their schooling.

The foundation awarded 80 scholarships of NT$5,000 each to Aboriginal elementary-school students. The foundation said that over 6,000 Aboriginal students applied for the scholarships, with more than 4,000 coming from low-income families.

One of the winners, 11-year-old Lin Hsiu-yi (林秀儀), is an Amis girl from the Chungho area. Lin's mother passed away and her father is unemployed. She lives with her disabled grandmother and she has to take care of the household. Her schooling suffers because of the family's poor economic circumstances.

Many other winners are in a similar situation.

"We only realized how serious the problem is when 6,002 students applied for the 80 scholarships. According to our investigations, most of these students are from poor economic backgrounds," said Chang Cheng-hsin (張正信), the foundation's chairman.

He pointed out that 3,742 of the students were from low-income families; 1,404 had either only one parent or no parents, and the rest had parents who were either disabled or unemployed.

"The public think that Aboriginal people are poor, have a low social status and bad schooling because they live in distant mountainous areas, but when we gave out the scholarships, we found that many applicants are from urban areas such as Taipei City, Taichung City and Taoyuan. They make up about 40 percent of the applicants. Urban Aborigines actually suffer disadvantages similar to rural tribal members," Chang said.

The foundation said that the scholarships were awarded mainly on economic considerations and only in the second instance did they look at the children's grades, to ensure that children in the direst financial situations could be helped.

The foundation hopes to be able to continue to provide scholarships and asked the public to donate to the fund. Those interested can call the foundation at (02) 2321-5290 or wire money to the foundation's post office account No. 188998747. Donors should specify the money is for the "Helping Them to School" project.

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