01/24/2013, 00.00
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Taiwanese schools: imbalance between "city" and rural children

by Xin Yage
Revealed in a study by the Child Welfare League Foundation in Taipei. The peers who live in rural areas lag behind because they lack technical tools. The disparity causes a loss of self-esteem, and 25% of children in the provinces do not want to enroll in high school.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - Taiwanese children who live in rural or provincial areas have more difficulty in school than their peers who live in cities, especially in English. This is what emerges from a study by the Child Welfare League Foundation (兒童福利聯盟), based in Taipei, according to which in 95% of the cases, the students of the villages and small towns do not have access to books and sources written in English, while 25% can not recognize and read the alphabet.

The data presented by the Child Welfare League Foundation is the result of numerous surveys among children in fifth and sixth grade, carried out between September and October 2012. In urban areas, the students were given 1330 questionnaires, while in rural areas 1200 questionnaires. Teachers responded to more than 225 questionnaires. As for the instruments, the study reveals that in areas far from cities, 58% of children do not have a computer or internet access, while nearly 90% of households living in an urban environment have as many as three or four computers connected to the internet in their homes.

With regards to subjects taught and methods of study, the results show that a child in fifth or sixth grade in a rural school has greater difficulty in answering third grade questions. Precisely for this reason children grow up knowing that high school will be a major challenge, and 70% of respondents were pessimistic about being able to keep up with their peers from schools in the city at the end of primary school. 25% did not even want to sit entrance exams for high school.

This reveals that the most disadvantaged children, not having the tools to learn on a par with peers in the city, lose self-esteem with great ease and show no interest in school subjects.

The Chinese academic examination system is very strict and closely based memorizing data and character, so it a preparation that allows immediate response to questions put to the candidate is essential. The concern of teachers and parents is that they without a proper qualification, rural students will remain marginalized from the labor market, adapting to low-paid jobs that will not help them escape from the poorest sections of society.

The investigation by the Child Welfare League Foundation confirms a survey carried out last year in a technical school in the province of Hsinchu. In this case, the problems related to the study of mathematics and Chinese language. Professor Chen Feiling (陈飞 灵 老师), one of the two authors of the survey, said: "Being able to follow the lessons of grammar and spelling was an already a challenge in the first grade and if the child is not particularly motivated and helped by teachers , it looses interest and stops following lessons for the simple reason that he or she does not understand the majority of the characters written on the blackboard. "

Fr. Olivier (丁立伟 神父), who works in a mountainous area of the province had to face this problem first hand. Eight years ago he opened a dormitory and an after-school centre accessible from Monday to Friday for Aboriginal students of the technical school St. Aloysius Gonzaga (内 思 高工): "Giving the opportunity to the students to study together, encourage each other, under the supervision of a teacher, the best ones can help the weakest, is the best service we can give them, and the results have been evident in recent years".


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