Moving toward a more inclusive society: The educational policy of new immigrant children in Taiwan

Taiwan Insight
Date: 21 August 2020 
By: Dorothy I-ru Chen.

Image credit: Primary School Student by Teddy Kwok/Flickr, license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Taiwan has always been an immigrate society. Immigrants from mainland China started to settle on the island as early as the 17th century. Starting from the 1990s, Taiwan experienced a new wave of immigration as marriages with women from China, and Southeast Asia (SEA) became increasingly common. Today, these female marriage-based immigrants reached more than half-million with the majority of them from China and SEA countries. Nevertheless, Taiwan remains to be a relatively ethnically homogeneous country. The recent official statistics show that more than 95% of Taiwan’s population is of the Han Chinese ethnicity.

The significant number of cross-country marriages brought the so-called ‘new immigrant children,’ ‘new Taiwanese children’ and ‘new resident children’ to public attention. Today, these children have been accounted for more than 10% of the student population at the compulsory education level. Among them, 43% of their mothers are from China, while the rest are mostly from SEA countries.

Even though a large number of these immigrants are from SEA, most people in Taiwan have a limited understanding of SEA countries. In the 1990s, the ex-President Lee Teng-hui tried to boost trade with the region by introducing the Southbound Policy without much success. However, due to large numbers of new immigrant children, along with the robust economic growth of ASEAN countries, and more than 700,000 SEA migrant workers currently working in Taiwan, the Taiwanese Government initiated the New Southbound Policy (NSP) in 2016. This was to enhance the cooperation between Taiwan and 18 other countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Oceania. Not surprisingly, education is one of the critical areas that the NSP addresses.

That being said, many educational initiatives have been implemented prior to 2016. One example is ‘the Torch Program,’ which was initiated by New Taipei City in 2008. With the support of private donations, the program made local primary schools the bases to support new immigrants societal integration. In 2012, the Central Government adopted this approach and launched ‘the National New Immigrants Torch Project’. Thus, schools with more than 10% or 100 new immigrant children were listed as ‘Schools for New Immigrant Children.’ Further, they were entitled to apply for family funds, counselling and visits, mother tongue learning and holding multicultural events.    [FULL  STORY]

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