Comparing children in metropolitan and remote areas, a survey commissioned by the Chinatrust Charity Foundation (CCF) and conducted by the Children’s Welfare League Foundation (CWLF) found there were substantial differences between the two groups not only in their economic situation, but also in resources and confidence levels.
A survey conducted between late September and early October with more than 2,000 valid samples found that more than 33 percent of children in remote areas came from economically disadvantaged families, while the figure for metropolitan areas was 12.9 percent, CCF director Chen Yu-tse (陳玉澤) told a press conference in Taipei yesterday.
Economic disadvantage could lead to a lack of resources and have an impact on education, Chen said.
The survey defines remote areas as mostly towns and villages in the mountains, while metropolitan areas are Taipei, Taichung and Tainan cities, as well as more developed areas in Taipei County, such as Banciao (板橋), Jhonghe (中和), Sanchong (三重), Yonghe (永和), Sinjhuang (新莊) and Lujhou (蘆州) cities.
“For every five kids living in remote areas, there is one who cannot pay for school lunch, school registration, textbooks or study aid books,” Chen said.
“In the cities, only 7.2 percent of children have that problem,” Chen said.
Furthermore, more than 40 percent of children living in remote areas had fewer than 10 books other than textbooks, a number that went down to 10.6 percent in cities.
In remote areas, 20 percent of children could not find anyone to help them with schoolwork because their parents or guardians have to work to support the family, Chen said, adding that the figure in metropolitan areas was 8.1 percent.
Economic difficulties and lack of resources also cause lower self-esteem, Chen said.
“In our survey, we found that more than 50 percent of children in remote areas believe that others live better than themselves, while the percentage is 36.8 percent for kids in cities,” Chen said.
Taiwan Fund for Children and Families deputy executive director Ho Su-chiou (何素秋) said one of the most important tasks the nation should take up was increasing these children’s ability to learn.
“Education can change a lot of things; education is power,” Ho said. “They are not learning well because of a lack of resources and we should give them a hand.”
CWLF executive director Alicia Wang (王育敏) said that because of economic hardship and transportation difficulties, “most children in remote areas of the country have become otaku.”
Otaku is a Japanese term used to describe someone who spends most of their time at home. It has a negative connotation.
“They are otaku not because they stay at home and play on the computer, but because they have to stay home to help out and cannot afford to travel outside their home villages or towns,” Wang said.
“We should help them look around outside their home villages or towns so they can find inspiration,” she said.