Taipei, May 6 (CNA) The government will set aside NT$200 million (US$6.84 million) for a project aimed at providing better care and education for children of new immigrants in Taiwan, Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan said Sunday.
Speaking during a 6-kilometer family walk for new immigrants and their families in the run-up to International Day of Families May 15, Lee said that 1,974 elementary schools qualify for the project, which will be carried out at over 300 schools during its first year.
"We hope to bring people together to care about new immigrants," said Lee, adding that his ministry will seek to introduce friendlier immigration policies "so that everyone coming to Taiwan can see the country as their home and contribute their talents to this land."
The "Torch Project," to be launched in September, will be implemented at elementary schools in which there are 100 or more children of new immigrants or where such students account for more than 10 percent of the total enrollment, said Lee.
He said issues related to new immigrants should be "actively addressed," as there are currently more than 460,000 of them in Taiwan, whose children account for over 10 percent of all elementary school students nationwide.
Many of the new immigrants are from China and Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.
The project is scheduled to be used for visiting families of new immigrants, training teachers in multicultural education, providing immigrants with courses taught in their mother tongues and other care and educational services.
"Taipei is an immigrant city and Taiwan is an immigrant society. This is an indisputable fact," said President Ma Ying-jeou, who attended the event to announce the project.
He said the public and private sectors should work together to help new immigrants get accustomed to local life and gradually see Taiwan as their homeland.
Ma encouraged new immigrants to teach their children their mother tongue at home, saying that "it is not very easy" for schools in Taiwan to open courses to teach immigrant children their mother tongues.
However, Tseng Ping-hua, a mother of four from Indonesia who attended the event, expressed hope that her children could learn Indonesian at school one day.
(By Christie Chen)