Tue, Jul 13, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Rights groups protest MOE over foreign wife remark

BAD EDUCATION MOE Vice Minister Chou's idea that babies born to foreign wives are a burden to Taiwan is unfounded, human rights groups say


Nguyen Thi Dien Hong, right, stands outside the Ministry of Education yesterday, along with human rights activists protesting Vice Minister of Education Chou Tsan-te's comments that foreign wives should limit the number of children they have.


A human rights group yesterday protested outside the Ministry of Education over a remark made by an official that foreign and Chinese brides in Taiwan should limit their number of children.

"We want Vice Minister Chou Tsan-te (周燦德) to make an apology and the government to impose a penalties against such remarks, as Chou's speech was full of ethnic discrimination and superiority," said Liao Yuan-hao (廖元豪), assistant professor at Soochow University School of Law, a representative of the Alliance for Human Rights Legislation for Immigrants and Migrants (AHRLIM).

In addition, AHRLIM also urged the Ministry of Education to re-examine its policy toward immigrants and their children to help them better integrate into Taiwanese society.

Last week, in a national education conference attended by the heads of the education department in 25 regional governments, Chou said that "foreign brides should not have so many children."

Chou's remark resulted in protests from human rights and immigrant groups.

According to Professor Hsia Hsiao-chuan (夏曉鵑), a sociologist specializing in female foreign spouse issues at Shih Hsin University, there is a significant amount of stereotyping against immigrant children.

"Currently, education authorities have a pre-perceived notion that immigrant children have `problems' and need additional counseling," Hsia said.

Hsia said that research showed most immigrant children do not show signs of learning disabilities, despite what others might think.

"Special attention paid by school teachers to these students will actually backfire and result in taunting by peers," Hsia said.

Chou's remark was based on last year's national statistics from the Executive Yuan, that indicated eight out of 10 children born in Taiwan to foreign or Chinese mothers and -- in a decade or two children born by non-Taiwanese mothers will enter the workforce.

However, Liao rebuked Chou's statement, pointing out that according to recent statistics conducted by the Ministry of the Interior on foreign spouses, the percentage of children with development disabilities born to non-Taiwanese mothers is merely 0.1 percent, which is lower than the average for native Taiwanese mothers.

At the national education conference last week, one of the central topics of discussion was on helping minority children, with the promotion of education programs for immigrant children as the central focus.

Chou stated that countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the US which have a high standard in their immigration policies, but immigrants to Taiwan do not face the same standards.

In response to the protest, the Ministry of Education yesterday stated that Chou himself would probably provide a statement.

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