ASEAN Chinese language school principals’ meeting kicks off in Taipei

Taipei, The first meeting featuring heads of Chinese language schools based in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and South Korea kicked off in Taipei Monday in a move to enhance closer cooperation between the Taiwan government and local schools.

The meeting, organized by the Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC), the government agency in charge of liaising with ethnic Chinese and communities abroad, featured 108 school principals or top managers from seven ASEAN countries -- Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Cambodia, and South Korea.

The two-day meeting is aimed at allowing the participants more understanding of the government's ongoing push for its New Southbound Policy targeting ASEAN countries, India, Australia and New Zealand, and the country's decades-long support of Chinese-language schools overseas, Premier Lai Ching-te (???) said in an address at the opening.

With better understanding of Taiwan's policy in supporting overseas Chinese language schools and overseas ethnic Chinese students, these overseas Chinese language schools can serve as a bridge connecting Taiwan with their respective countries, Lai said.

He said the New Southbound Policy, initiated since President Tsai Ing-wen (???) assumed office in May 2016, has proven successful in further linking Taiwan with ASEAN countries.

The number of travelers arriving in Taiwan from ASEAN countries surged 27 percent in 2017 compared with the year before. The number of students in Taiwan from ASEAN countries also increased 10 percent over the past year.

Taiwan's investment in ASEAN economies increased 54.5 percent year on year in 2017, while inbound investment rose 15.8 percent, he added.

The government is now offering scholarships and more visa incentives to encourage ethnic Chinese students to come to Taiwan to receive high school, vocational, undergraduate and postgraduate education, Lai noted.

"These incentives are meant to lure more youngsters from ASEAN to learn specialties in Taiwanese schools. These skills will then help them to start their own businesses after they return home, thus boosting economic development in their respective countries," he added.

A total of 14 vocational high schools that offer programs for overseas ethnic Chinese students also sent representatives to the two-day meeting so that school representatives from ASEAN countries can gain a deeper knowledge of Taiwan's vocational education and encourage more of their students to study here, according to OCAC.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel