Fri, Jan 31, 2020 - Page 2 News List

Ministry touts success of rural education initiative

By Rachel Lin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A program started in 2015 to send retired and volunteer teachers to schools in remote areas has helped thousands of students, the Ministry of Education said.

A total of 361 teachers have connected with 166 rural communities as part of the initiative to provide more multifaceted curricula to students in remote areas where resources are lacking, the ministry said.

More than 10,000 students have benefited from more enriched learning opportunities through this program, and it has injected new energy into these communities, K-12 Education Administration official Wu Hsiao-hsia (武曉霞) said.

National Chengchi University developed the portal that matches volunteer teachers with rural schools for the ministry, Wu said, adding that it is called the “Lule Platform” (鹿樂平台) as it sounds like the English word “rural.”

Schools submit information about their needs through the portal, which serves as a communication platform between schools and volunteers, and encourages public participation in rural education, she said.

“The program operates under the spirit of mutual benefit. These volunteers hold classes and educational activities in rural areas without pay, and the school provides them with free accommodation throughout the school year,” she said.

One volunteer, Chen Ming-yi (陳茗宜), was a lecturer of foreign languages at National Taiwan University for more than 10 years. Last year, she relocated to Kinmen County as a volunteer due to her fascination with its culture, she said.

Chen’s volunteer work largely involves helping younger students with English, and providing assistance to foreign teachers, said Liu Chieh-hung (劉界宏), the principal of the school where Chen volunteers.

Students from National Quemoy University also volunteer at the school where they gain valuable experience, Liu said.

Lan Yu-shun (藍鈺舜), who was introduced to the program by a former volunteer, has volunteered at the English-language program at Kaohsiung’s Chung-Te Elementary School since 2018, the school said.

Lan teaches English through activities and offers a different learning opportunity for the students than the school’s conventional language programs, the school added.

“Some of the students who struggle learning languages found Lan’s classes very interesting. It gave them a way to learn vocabulary through fun activities,” the school said.

Lan also plays sports with the students and helps them with homework, the school said, adding that the students are very fond of her.

“In the past the school was concerned about how to cope with insufficient staff, but this program has done wonders,” school director Lee Chien-te (李建德) said.

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