Sat, Nov 13, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Overseas Chinese school lacks funds

‘FOCUSED’:Lien Fang Yu visited the school, founded in 1897 by Sun Yat-sen, that is educating Taiwanese in Yokohama by charging less than other Japanese schools

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter, in Yokohama, Japan

Striving to serve the local Taiwanese community and preserve the traditional culture of Taiwan, the Yokohama Overseas Chinese School asked visiting Lien Fang Yu (連方瑀), the wife of APEC envoy and former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) for help with the school’s development.

Arriving to a warm welcome as students of the school performed the traditional lion dance and waved the Republic of China flag, Lien Fang visited the Yokohama Overseas Chinese School — founded by Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) in 1897 — as part of her visit to Yokohama’s Chinatown.

Lien Fang arrived in Yokohama on Thursday, accompanying her husband, who is to take part today and tomorrow in APEC summit meetings on behalf of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

After the welcome ceremony, Lien Fang was briefed about the school by school president Shih Huei-chen (施惠珍), before she visited a fourth-grade classroom.

It was during the briefing that the school president told Lien Fang that the school was in constant financial hardship and asked her to deliver a message to the government in Taipei that the school needs more help.

“We’re always having financial difficulties,” Academic Affairs Office director Yang -Ching-huei (楊靜蕙), told the Taipei Times.

“Although we do receive some funds from the Overseas -Compatriots Commission, we depend mostly on tuition fees as a source of income,” she said. “Since our main goal is to serve the Taiwanese community here, we’re charging far less than most other Japanese schools.”

She said the Yokohama Overseas Chinese School charges ¥22,000 (US$268) per student per month at elementary and junior high school levels, and ¥25,000 per student per month at the high school level, while other private schools in Japan charge about ¥50,000 per student per month on average.

“Other than regular expenses, the buildings on campus need some serious renovation work. As you can see, these buildings are very old,” Yang said.

Yang is a retired teacher from Taiwan, who has devoted her time to serving overseas communities since her retirement, which led her to teach in Thailand before moving to Japan.

Although there are also Japanese students and ethnic Chinese students from other countries, 71 percent of the students are either from Taiwan or children of local Taiwanese families, which is the result of the schooling staying “focused,” said Chiang Pin-huei (江品輝), a teacher at the school who moved from Taiwan to Japan about a year ago.

Chiang said that since about half of the teachers are Japanese, both Japanese and Mandarin are used as the instructional languages of the school.

Another teacher at the school, Chang Ma-yun (張瑪雲), said that because of the lack of funds, teachers get paid very little and have to take on more than one person’s work.

“You asked which subject I teach, well, I teach everything because we don’t have enough money to hire more teachers,” Chang said.

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