The Ministry of Education (MOE) is reportedly drafting a four-year, NT$500 million (US$16.8 million) plan to recruit African undergraduate and graduate students, to help train the kind of professionals needed to work in priority industries in which Taiwan plays a leading role.
Reports of the plan, which surfaced a week ago, cited sources who talked about establishing dual-degree programs between Taiwanese and African universities, saying that some local schools had already started recruiting in Africa.
It sounded like another admirable effort to expand Taiwan’s soft power, harnessing one of the nation’s strengths — its tertiary institutions — with one of its weaknesses, a shortage of students.
However, another story was published just a few days earlier about the alleged exploitation of foreign students through work-study “internships.” It involved Swazi students enrolled at Mingdao University and questions about donations paid to the school by companies employing the student interns.
It turned out that the ministry had been forced to intervene in late November 2018 after it learned of media reports in Eswatini about how the business administration students at Mingdao were working 40 hours per week skinning chickens at a Changhua County factory in return for tuition and accommodation. The ministry ordered the school to cancel the work contracts and help the students return to a full-time class schedule.
The ministry was already well aware that the recruitment of foreign students from New Southbound Policy nations and others was open to abuse, as earlier that November it had reprimanded the University of Kang Ning over its recruitment of Sri Lankan high-school graduates who ended up working illegally at underground factories and slaughterhouses in Taipei and Tainan.
At the time, the ministry said the Kang Ning case was an isolated incident, which it clearly was not, as more complaints have been raised since then about internship programs at other schools.
The ministry in July last year said it would supervise enrollment of foreign students to ensure that labor brokers are not involved and the schools are not advertising that students could work to pay off the cost of their schooling and that documentation and enrollment materials are available in Chinese, English and the official language of the country where students are being recruited.
Among other steps, it also encouraged students to call the Network for International Student Advisors hotline if they encountered problems.
The MOE is following the reactive, rather than proactive, route that the Fisheries Agency has been using to supervise the recruitment and treatment of foreign fishers aboard Taiwan’s deepwater fleet — with equally dismal results for the nation’s image.
Higher education and deep-sea fishing appear worlds apart, but in both cases there are Taiwanese institutions — schools and fisheries — in need of, or perhaps desperate for, people eager for the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families, and there are people who want to take advantage.
It is not enough to rest on laws and regulations and hope that everyone will follow the rules, especially when there has been direct evidence that too many do not.
The MOE must take more aggressive steps to protect students who move far from home and their families to study, and to protect Taiwan’s reputation.
All the positive media coverage of this nation’s democracy, of the government’s success in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and its efforts to provide masks and other medical equipment to those in need can be tarnished by news reports in students’ home countries of abuse allegations and broken promises.
Education ministry officials appear in need of some remedial education.
It is a plot that could have come straight from the pages of a John le Carre novel. The head of a nation’s secret intelligence service is caught in a honeytrap: captured on camera with a mysterious younger woman at Bangkok International Airport and covertly followed to their hotel. A secret liaison in an exotic location, used to blackmail the spymaster of an adversary, who misappropriated public funds to pay for the clandestine affaire d’amour. This is what the Chinese Ministry of State Security wants people to believe after it used a Thai-language “cutout” Twitter account to release a “leaked” photograph
In a China-US war over Taiwan, paradoxically the greatest loss of life could be inflicted on the Muslim Uighurs. Uighurs constitute 45 percent of the Xinjiang population of 25 million people, with over 1 million incarcerated in internment camps in accordance with a policy initiated under Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平). Another half-million children have been placed in state-run boarding schools. Forced sterilization has led to a 24 to 60 percent drop in the birthrate, leading officials from many countries to describe the mass detention as genocide. Estimated annual death rates in the camps of between 5 and 10 percent could
Starting from November, and in line with recent amendments to the Compulsory Automobile Liability Insurance Act (強制汽車責任保險法), electric bicycles (e-bikes) and other small electric two-wheeled vehicles must be licensed with mounted license plates before they can be ridden on the road. This change should resolve some existing problems, such as the difficulty that e-bike owners have faced in receiving help to find their bikes if they are stolen, and the difficulty that road users have in holding anyone accountable when an accident occurs. It would also allow the more than 600,000 e-bikes that are currently being ridden on Taiwan’s roads to
The United States may soon find it somewhere between difficult and near impossible to maintain a sufficiently favorable balance of power against the People’s Republic of China in the Western Pacific. That is, unless our leaders in Washington can evaluate past policy decisions with a critical eye and begin to integrate Taiwan into an overarching plan to maintain regional stability. For its part, Taiwan simply cannot ensure its long-term survival unless it is able to obtain a greater degree of support from America. War and peace in the Taiwan Strait will likely turn on whether or not Washington and Taipei