Dear Minister [of Education] Pan [Wen-chung (潘文忠)],
We are grateful that HES students were finally able to enter Taiwan after waiting for so long. However, those who do not have scholarships like us also deserve to continue our studies, as we have also been waiting for over a year and a half. Therefore, we feel abandoned since there has been no progress whatsoever regarding non-scholarship-recipient Chinese language students. As the pandemic in Taiwan and other countries stabilizes, we call for the Ministry of Education to help non-scholarship Chinese language students return to Taiwan.
Many of us come from different countries around the world and our common goal is to study Chinese in Taiwan. The only difference between HES students and non-HES students is that we have not obtained any scholarship from the Taiwanese government. As borders restrictions continue to apply for us, we have already been in a situation of uncertainty for too long. As our fellow HES Chinese students, we feel a strong commitment to studying Mandarin in Taiwan, but unlike them, we were never given the possibility to do so. Many of us have missed many opportunities: some of us have wasted our time due to this waiting period we find ourselves in, some have lost their jobs to devote time to the study of the Chinese language, some have been spending money on rent hoping to return to Taiwan one day, along with other different situations. Despite our saddening circumstances, we all ended up being abandoned by the Ministry of Education when Taiwan opened its borders again for some students.
On April 1st 2021, when the first batch of HES students was able to enter Taiwan, MOE stated that it would also start considering the entrance of other types of students subject to the evolution of the pandemic in the country, which means non-scholarship students would be given the chance to enter Taiwan if the situation of the pandemic improves. Almost half a year has elapsed, and gladly, the COVID-19 pandemic has already stabilized in Taiwan. Meanwhile, new cases and new deaths worldwide have come to their lowest point since last year. Consequently, we demand Minister Pan fulfil his promises and allow non-scholarship students to enter Taiwan as soon as possible so we are able to continue our education.
Other countries such as Canada, the US and some in the European Union also began to relax their border restriction, and we think that it is the right time to consider non-scholarship Chinese language students to continue their study as the situation in Taiwan has improved drastically. All we are asking for is certainty over our futures.
Furthermore, Taiwan wants to become the main destination for learning Mandarin Chinese, but current border restrictions contradict this objective. This let-language-students-out policy is causing a lot of side effects, not only to students but also to a lot of Chinese language teachers who have lost their jobs, let alone Chinese Language Centers around the country being almost empty.
MOE suggested that we study Chinese online until borders restrictions can be loosened, but online learning has proved to be less effective, especially when it comes to language learning. It is better to learn Mandarin if we learn it in a place where the language is spoken daily so we can practice it every day. It is extremely difficult for someone who does not live in a Mandarin-speaking environment to learn the language effectively, so online learning is not a plausible option at all.
When we are finally allowed to enter Taiwan, we will undoubtedly follow any safe protocol, and we will willingly undergo the 14-day quarantine and 7-day self-health management. We want the people of Taiwan to continue living their lives as normal, and we foreign students will always respect their rules to prevent COVID-19 from entering the country.
To conclude, we would like to add that every student deserves to have the chance to continue learning, regardless they have been awarded a scholarship or not.
We hope that Minister Pan and the Ministry of Education of Taiwan will keep their words as a responsible department of the Taiwanese Government.
Non-scholarship Chinese Language Students