Sat, Nov 01, 2003 - Page 2 News List

China-based students shun summer programs

BY MELODY CHEN  /  STAFF REPORTER

Only a tiny portion of China-based Taiwanese students are interested in summer programs designed by the government to salvage their knowledge about their home country, a Mainland Affairs Council report showed yesterday.

Every summer, the council and the Ministry of Education provided short-term programs for students returning from two schools established for China-based Taiwanese businesspeople's children, in Guandong and Jiangsu provinces.

Powerless to stop China from removing contents referring to Taiwan's national identity from the students' textbooks, the government decided to bring these students home to teach them about their country through the summer programs.

Council Vice Chairman Johnnasson Liu (劉德勳) said yesterday that although the government tolerated China's deleting certain contents from the students' textbooks, it would never allow China to add anything to the books.

A majority of the summer sessions are titled "Understanding Taiwan" and "Civilians." Last year, the program was divided into two parts, targeting first and second graders from the junior-high level of the two schools.

With more than 1,500 students studying at the kindergarten- through-senior-high-school level, only 272 pupils registered for the courses last year, the report said.

The students had to pay tuition for the courses. The first graders were given two-week-long courses and the second graders' program lasted three days.

The full-day courses for the first graders ran from 8am to 10pm. The students spent 29 hours on the "Understanding Taiwan" sessions and 16 hours on the "Civilians" subject. Two days were spent on sightseeing trips.

This past summer, no programs were offered because of the SARS epidemic.

Is the government confident that these brief programs can really fill the gaps in the students' education about Taiwan's national identity, when most of the China-based students did not register for the courses?

Admitting that the programs have been "less than satisfactory," Liu said the government would try to strengthen the courses.

"We cannot force the students to take the courses. We can only encourage them to join," Liu said.

"What we intend to teach during the programs are the contents China blotted out in their textbooks," he said.

Liu said it is not necessary for the students return to Taiwan to take the courses every summer.

"It would be good if a student could join the programs twice during the nine years between the start of elementary school and the completion of junior high," he said.

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