Wed, Dec 16, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Chu to expand preschool subsidy system if elected

IT’S THE ECONOMY:The KMT’s presidential candidate said most young couples put off parenthood for financial reasons, as they are worried over expensive preschooling

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday proposed expanding kindergarten subsidies to cover children aged between three and five years old, as part of his efforts to assuage the nation’s dwindling birth rate.

“Taiwan’s declining birth rate is primarily attributed to the rising financial burden on young couples, which is why we must address the problem by increasing educational subsidies,” Chu told a forum held at the KMT headquarters yesterday morning to unveil his educational platform.

In a country that has a 3:7 ratio of public to private kindergartens, most young couples put off parenthood for economic reasons, Chu said.

Chu said that if elected, he would increase the education budget from 22.5 percent of the nation’s average net annual revenue to 23.5 percent, to fund his policy of lowering the minimum age limit for the government’s preschool subsidies from five to three.

Under the Ministry of Education’s current preschool subsidy scheme, families of children eligible for the subsidies are entitled to tuition-free admission to public kindergartens or a grant of NT$15,000 per child for each semester they attend a private preschools.

Those from financially disadvantaged families can receive an additional subsidy of between NT$6,000 and NT$10,000 per semester if they go to public preschools, and between NT$5,000 to NT$15,000 if they attend private kindergartens.

“I intend to start with a pilot scheme in the first year [of my presidential term] aimed at children who live in outlying islands, are born to Aboriginal parents, or come from impoverished households,” Chu said, adding that the scheme would be implemented nationwide in his second year.

Regarding higher education, Chu said he would endeavor to internationalize the nation’s universities to solicit more foreign students, such as those from China and ASEAN countries.

Asked if he would open Taiwan’s doors wider to Chinese students if he takes office, Chu said he plans to allow Chinese students who have graduated from that nation’s five-year junior-college system to study in Taiwanese universities of science and technology.

“Not just Chinese students; we also hope to attract more students from countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam to study here,” Chu said. “Our goal is to see them employed by Taiwanese corporations based in their countries after they graduate.”

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