Project teaches computer skills to immigrants

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Mar 04, 2014 - Page 3

To enhance immigrants’ computer skills, the National Immigration Agency (NIA) has launched the “Little Minivan Project,” using a decorated minivan to reach out to immigrants, mostly from Southeast Asia, and encourage them to sign up for the agency’s computer lessons.

“You have had tea as a drink, but have you tried it in a salad?” said Ko Chen-wei (柯珍偉), an immigrant from Myanmar who has lived in Taiwan for more than two decades, as she carried around a plate of tea leaf salad, a specialty from Myanmar, encouraging people to try it at a community center in New Taipei City’s Tucheng District (土城) on a Sunday afternoon last month.

With a group of immigrants and their children surrounding Ko, it looked like a weekend party, but most of people were attentively listening to lecturer Cheng Chieh-hung (鄭傑紘), standing next to a minivan painted blue and white, as he explained basic computer skills.

“The ‘Little Minivan Project’ is a project initiated by the agency to encourage immigrants, especially those who live in rural or remote areas, to learn to use computers,” said NIA Director-General Hsieh Li-kung (謝立功), who also attended the event.

“I think that in the age of information it’s very important for everyone to know the basics about computers, so we’re providing computer lessons free of charge for immigrants and their children,” Hsieh added.

Cheng said the minivan could be easily turned into a mobile classroom and would travel to locations where five or more people sign up for the lesson.

The curriculum includes basic information about computers, inputting Chinese characters, sending and receiving e-mails, an introduction to practical Web sites, chatting with families abroad, sharing photographs online, Internet security and how to create a resume, Cheng said.

In addition to the minivan, Cheng said that the agency also works with 64 computer education centers around the country.

“So far, we’re planning to provide 119 sessions, with 16 lessons each lasting two hours,” Cheng said.

Ko, 60, said she really appreciates the opportunity.

“I’m an ethnic Chinese and I took refuge in Taiwan with my two young children about 20 years ago amid anti-Chinese unrest,” Ko said.

“My husband died early. I’ve worked hard to take care of my elder parents and raise my kids, now that they are grown-up and are attending college, it’s about time for me to learn to use computer,” she added.

First launched in January, the minivan has been to a dozen locations in Changhua, Greater Kaohsiung, Pingtung County and Hualien.

Those who are interested in signing up for the lesson or learn the details may do so by caling the toll-free number at 0800-005-788.