Thu, Apr 02, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Activists urge more help for children of immigrant spouses

CHALLENGING Teacher Chien Chin-an, who has a mother from Thailand and Taiwanese father, spoke of the difficulties he faced when he went to school

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the approach of Children’s Day on Saturday, a social welfare group has urged the public to pay more attention to the increasing number of children born to immigrant spouses, as a high percentage live in poverty, in single parent families or suffer from a learning gap.

“About one in four marriages between Taiwanese men and Southeast Asian women end in divorce, while one in two between Taiwanese men and Chinese women end in divorce,” said Jeffery Su (蘇禾), secretary-general of Canlove Social Services Association, citing the Ministry of the Interior’s 2007 figures.

“Growing up as part of a single-parent family, being brought up by grandparents or living in poverty are some of the common challenges facing these children,” Su said.

While education can be a problem for single-parent and economically disadvantaged families, it can be a challenge for two-parent immigrant spouse families as well, Su said.

Chien Chin-an (錢縉諳), an elementary school teacher with a Taiwanese father and a Thai mother, spoke of the problems he encountered at school.

“My mother speaks Mandarin, but doesn’t read Chinese — so whenever I had questions related to my homework, she’d just tell me to ask my father,” Chien said. “But my father had to work, so he could only help me after he got off work.”

Su said the issue is a growing challenge in the education system, as “almost 130,000 children from immigrant spouse families were registered at elementary or junior high schools last year — and the number could be more than 150,000 this year.”

“We need to spend more time helping these children,” Su said.

To render some assistance to these children, the Canlove Social Service Association started a program three years ago offering free after-school tutoring.

“Besides the tutoring service, giving financial assistance to families of these children if they have economic problems and finding help for children experiencing abuse is also part of our work,” Su said.

However, Su said that Canlove’s programs may soon have to end because many businesses that used to sponsor them have stopped doing so because of the economic situation.

“We’ve helped almost 40,000 children in past three years since our program started, but we may not be able to last much longer,” Su said.

“I’m asking the public to help by sponsoring a child in our program,” he said.

For details on how to sponsor a child visit

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