Tue, Jan 22, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Students in remote areas being left behind: survey

HARD TO REACH:A children’s welfare group said the results of the poll showed the urgency of bridging the gap between the quality of rural and urban education

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

About 72 percent of children in remote areas have insufficient educational resources, said a survey conducted by the Child Welfare League Foundation, which said that the effects of the gap between rural and urban educational resources is becoming a serious concern.

The survey, published yesterday, revealed that 58.7 percent of children in rural areas did not have a computer or Internet access at home, while 88.3 percent of the children in families in wealthier areas have an average of more than three computers at home.

Moreover, 66.4 percent of children in remote areas have less than 10 children’s books at home and 47.5 percent did not read any extracurricular books.

The results also showed that 55.6 percent of the teachers in these areas said they had to help their students find ways to afford tuition, while 31 percent expressed concern that their students would not be able to afford the fees for junior high school.

The survey found that 94.9 percent of the children in remote areas did not have access to English-language reading materials on a regular basis and up to 25.2 percent could not spell the English alphabet, showing a clear gap between the English-language abilities of the average child of the same age.

In addition, the foundation said that nearly half, 47.9 percent, of fifth and sixth graders in rural areas could not correctly answer school course questions aimed at third and fourth graders.

The children also have fewer chances to advance their learning after school because 68.4 percent of them do not attend cram schools, in contrast to the many students of the same age in wealthier, urban areas who take additional classes after school.

Many teachers in rural areas said that in addition to poor grades, most of their students also lack confidence and an interest in learning, the foundation said.

According to the poll, 70.3 percent of rural students expressed concern that they would not be able to catch up to the average level of learning when they enter junior high school, while 24.8 percent said they are reluctant to enter junior high school.

The foundation said the lack of resources in remote areas not only affect the quality of these children’s lives, but also limit their ability and opportunity to learn, and may cause them to be stuck in a cycle of poverty, which is a problem that needs to be urgently addressed.

It said it has cooperated with other foundations to stage educational fundraising events to help rural students.

The survey was conducted from late September to mid-October last year. The foundation collected 1,330 valid questionnaires from fifth and sixth graders in 22 urban areas in counties across the nation, 1,213 questionnaires from students in rural areas and 225 questionnaires from school teachers in rural areas.

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