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Project to assist new immigrant families kicks off

2012/09/17 21:16:23

Taipei, Sept. 17 (CNA) The government launched a project Monday aimed at providing better care and education for the children of new immigrants to Taiwan.

The NT$200 million (US$6.83 million) "Torch Project," to be carried out at over 300 schools during its first year, will include classes teaching the mother tongues of Taiwan's immigrants, parent-child camps for families of new immigrants and culinary contests for new immigrants, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

Many of Taiwan's 460,000 new immigrants are from China and Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.

The project will be implemented at elementary schools in which 100 or more children of new immigrants are enrolled or where such students account for more than 10 percent of the total student body.

Children of new immigrants are born with the advantages of having two countries, said Vice President Wu Den-yih at the launch ceremony. For example, he said, South Korean immigrants and their next generation could help Taiwan establish better ties with South Korea and even help Taiwan tap into that market.

"The more there are, the more effective they can be," he added.

Chinese Indonesian Sung Tsui-hsin, who married a Taiwanese man three years ago and now lives in New Taipei, said the city government subsidizes births and Mandarin lessons to help new immigrants adapt to life here. "I feel the government really cares for us," she said.

The city, which has Taiwan's biggest population, has 120,000 new immigrants, as well as some 60,000 immigrant workers, Mayor Eric Chu said.

Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan said that the increase in the number of children born to new immigrant parents "is both a crisis and a turning point."

"If we guide them well and help them assimilate into our society, while Taiwanese people respect and learn from their cultures, Taiwan can become more diverse and culturally rich," he pointed out.

(By Claudia Liu and Kendra Lin)