With schools set to welcome pupils returning for the autumn semester later this month, a children’s welfare organization said a recent survey found that more than a third of children from underprivilieged families are unable to pay for lunch and other school fees.
According to the survey commissioned by the Child Welfare League Foundation (CWLF), one in three children from needy families do not eat breakfast every day, 30 percent of them have less than NT$30 (US$1) to spend on dinner and 60 percent go to sleep hungry.
The survey, carried out in December last year and January this year which questioned 853 children, also revealed that the parents of 38.6 percent of underprivileged children attending grade school are divorced or separated, while 12 percent of the children were being raised by their grandparents.
Of the underprivileged children, 44.7 percent said they worry about their personal belongings, such as school bags, books, sports equipment and swim wear, being damaged as their families do not have the money to buy new ones, while 67.8 percent admitted to often having to borrow coloring pencils, reference books and other items of stationery from their classmates.
Foundation chief executive Chen Li-ju (陳麗如) said that kids from underprivileged families have a lack of educational opportunities and resources, which negatively impacts their academic performance.
“For underprivileged students, 23.4 percent have average scores near the pass level in school tests, 16.4 percent get higher grades while being unable to write all 26 letters of the English alphabet and 46 percent said they have no one at home to help them with their homework,” she said.
Although 45.9 percent of underprivileged children want to attend cram school to improve their grades, 53 percent do not have the money to pay for it.
“Also, 93.3 percent of teachers of these students say they worry that the parents cannot pay for after-school care, with 34.3 percent of the children saying they participate in after-school care so that they get a meal for supper,” Chen said.
The foundation is cooperating with AIA Insurance to set up a support program for needy children, Chen said. People wishing to take part can call the CWLF on (02) 2550-5959 ext. 1.