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The Vocational Education Program for Overseas Compatriot Students is widely praised by parents

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In response to misleading media reports about The Vocational Education Program for Overseas Compatriot Students (the Program), in a press release on May 5, the Overseas Community Affairs Council (OCAC) pointed out that, since the Program was initiated in 2014, it has been welcomed by economically-disadvantaged families in New Southbound countries and the number of students enrolling is increasing year by year.

The OCAC pointed out, for the benefit of overseas compatriot youths and to enhance the export of Taiwan’s vocational education and further the multi-lateral relations between Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries, overseas compatriot youth who have graduated from middle schools are encouraged to come to Taiwan to study and learn a skill at vocational high school, in line with the approach used for vocational high school cooperative education programs in Taiwan. With schools and companies collaborating, the Program is part-work, part-study. Students spend three months receiving practical training in factories, for which they are paid, and then they study three months at schools, during which time they support themselves. The admirable willingness to endure hard work without complaint of the students on the Program is reminiscent of the indomitable spirit of young people in earlier days in Taiwan.

The OCAC Overseas Credit Guarantee Fund also provides a student loan of NT$80,000 per student that can be paid back in installments. Any economically-disadvantaged student of school's cooperative class in need can apply for such a loan, allowing overseas compatriot youth to study in Taiwan without worry and, by doing so, change their lives for the better, even if they have limited finances. Students who graduate from the Program wanting to carry on studying and go to university can take an advantage of an alignment plan that bridges vocational high schools with science and technology universities formulated by the OCAC. The plan allows students to directly enroll at a university. In 2018, around 70% of Program graduates went on to attend university in Taiwan.

The OCAC said that the Program has gone smoothly in the past five years since it was established; in 2014, the first year, only five vocational high schools took part, with only 281 students enrolled. Nevertheless, in 2019, 21 vocational high schools have been approved to participate; the number of enrolled student grew to 1,578 last year, and it is expected to increase to more than 2,350 this year. It has important strategic significance for Taiwan’s nurturing of outstanding Southeast Asian overseas compatriot students and strengthening overseas compatriot students’ understanding of Taiwan.

The OCAC stated that The 3+4 Vocational Education Program for Overseas Compatriot Students it organizes (3-year vocational high-school, 4-year science and technology university programs) is strictly controlled; every participating school has declared that it will not illegally enroll students overseas, commission an agent or illegally collect payment, or arrange other illegalities, such as “fake study, real work” activity. If a school is found to have engaged in such illegality, it will be immediately stripped of its right to undertake the Program. The aim is to maintain the brand and image of Taiwan’s vocational education in Southeast Asia.

The OCAC also requires that each undertaking school strengthen Chinese language education, implement graded education and provide study materials free to overseas compatriot students. The OCAC carries out unscheduled inspection to participating schools and factories where students receive training and work, along with Ministry of Labor and Ministry of Education personnel. Overseas compatriot students are also selected for interview on a random basis to see how the schools handle the Program and how the students do in factories.