Wed, Jul 28, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet to hold special day for kids

OBSTACLES Children with a parent from a foreign country often have some difficulties growing up in Taiwanese society, and the government wants to help

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

In an effort to help children with at least one foreign parent overcome the numerous obstacles they face growing up in Taiwan, the Cabinet is set to approve an education improvement measure today to offer several initiatives, including holding an "International Day."

According to a special report the education ministry is scheduled to present to Premier Yu Shyi-kun during the weekly closed-door Cabinet meeting today, the number of children with foreign parents has shown a steady increase over the past 20 years, and is expected to continue to rise for the next five years.

As of May, there were over 312,000 foreign spouses living in Taiwan. About 191,000 of them are from China, while more than 112,000 are from Southeast Asia and over 9,800 are from Hong Kong or Macao.

More than 30,000 students studying in elementary and junior high schools were from families with one foreign parent as of the spring semester. Among the 30,000, about 10,000 have a Chinese parent, over 7,800 have an Indonesian parent and more than 3,500 have a Vietnamese parent.

While there were 6,945 new students that came from families with one foreign parent in the last school year, the ministry estimates the number will increase to over 13,000 this school year, about 17,000 next year, more than 23,200 in 2006, about 27,000 in 2007 and over 30,000 in 2008.

The number of children with a foreign parent is steadily on the rise and is projected to increase in the future, and such children generally have worse academic performance than their Taiwanese counterparts, according to the ministry.

According to Liu Hsiu-yen (劉秀燕), one of the seven academics commissioned by the ministry to conduct analyses of the educational problems faced by multicultural children nationwide, students coming from multicultural marriages and living in remote areas of Chiayi County have lower academic achievement and poorer language levels than their counterparts nationwide.

Another study, conducted by the Taipei City Government's Bureau of Education, showed that over 38 percent of the multicultural children studying in the city's elementary schools had overall adaptation problems, while more than 33 percent had problems adapting to their school life and more than 20 percent had problems adapting to their everyday life.

Another academic, Yang Shu-chu (楊淑朱), who was responsible for studying students in Yunlin County, said that elementary, junior and senior high school students coming from the county and from multicultural marriages have poorer academic performance, especially in mathematics and language.

A study conducted by Tsai Ron-kuei (蔡榮貴) on the nation's multinational students found that parents of multicultural students had lower social and economic status, and that students with a foreign parent or parents had less impressive academic performance than their Taiwanese counterparts.

In a bid to help students from multicultural marriages with their schoolwork -- especially such subjects as math and languages -- the ministry launched a NT$4.61 million after-class schoolwork guidance program in fall last year.

In addition to the program, the ministry also plans to put children from multicultural marriages on the priority list for attending public kindergartens or nursery schools.

To help the public learn about foreign cultures, the ministry is planning to hold an "International Day."

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